Tehran improves ability to diagnose TB casesMar 29, 2014
Every year more than 2 billion people are infected with Tuberculosis – or TB as it is commonly called.
In recent times, the world has set goals to eliminate TB-related deaths. And progress have been impressive. For example, TB mortality has fallen over 45% worldwide since 1990, and TB incidence is declining. On the one hand, new anti-TB tools – such as rapid diagnostics – are helping improve the response to the disease. On the other, new life-saving drugs are becoming available.
In partnership with UNDP, the Government of Islamic Republic of Iran has mobilized resources from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) to fill implementation gaps in the national TB control response. This work began in 2008. Since then, it has contributed to better case detection and treatment as well as better public awareness of the disease.
The joint programme has already established 8 Drug Susceptibility Test (DST) labs in 8 national and sub-national centres. These are located in Shiraz, Isfahan, Zahedan, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Gorgan, Ahwaz and Tehran. The latest DST Lab to be inaugurated was in Tehran – on 16 March.
Speaking at the event was Dr. Arash Rashidian, Deputy for Health Affairs at Tehran University of Medical Sciences thanked all those who were involved in the construction and creation of this lab. “The construction of this lab began in 2009 and the total cost of building and opening this laboratory has cost over 850,000” he said.
Dr. Ali Jafarian, Chancellor of Tehran Medical University spoke at the event. In his remarks, he emphasized the “time-saving” value of this lab.
In the past, he said, “identifying whether a person was infected with TB could take as long as two months, but with the inauguration of this lab, this timeframe has been cut to two hours. This is a huge achievement for us.”
Also speaking at the ceremony was the Acting Resident Representative of UNDP, Dr. B. Murali. “The lab network brings immense improvement and ease to the country’s TB case finding efforts in combination with the improvement DOTS practice has brought significant improvement in country’s capacities to address TB” he said, adding that the UNDP TB project would contribute to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan by:
- Awareness raising for TB prevention;
- Strengthening lab infrastructure;
- More efficient and earlier case finding;
- Improved treatment practices though an enhanced “directly observed treatment” protocol;
- Better detection, isolation and treatment of TB patients in 66 large prisons across Iran;
- Provision of technical training for health system staff; and
- Various types of studies and assessments as related to TB statistics, care and treatment.