Gene Xpert a vital tool in detecting tuberculosis

Karonga District Hospital Deputy Laboratory Manager, Jacob Manda, has described the Gene Xpert machine as the most vital tool in detecting tuberculosis (TB) in sputum samples.

Manda told journalists during a TB media tour to the hospital last week that the machine has proven to be the most effective tool in diagnosing the disease.

National Gene Xpert National Coordinator Phillip Maiden

“This machine is one of the tools which simplifies the identification of a bacteria in the sputum within a short period,” he said.

According to Manda, the machine is accurate when giving out results and is also timely compared to the use of a sputum smear microscope.

The microscope depends on a human eye aided by the lens to identify the bacteria in the sputum and the results are hand-written compared to an Xpert whose results are directly printed on a computer embedded.

Manda added that the hospital currently uses a 4-module Gene Xpert, which is small compared to the sputum samples they receive from the communities in the district in a day.

If they can consider giving us a big one with 16 modules, it will really help in the district, he said.

Manda at work in office

National Gene Xpert Coordinator, Phillip Maiden, said the government, through NTLP, has supplied Gene Xperts to all district, community rural and private hospitals, including Christian Health Association (CHAM) hospitals to ease the diagnosis of the disease.

“This is a point of care platform where test results are produced within a few hours thereby helping doctors to make a quick decision on patient management,” he said.

The machine can diagnose TB when sputum has very low numbers of bacilli in severely immunosuppressed individuals like people living with HIV, he explained.

Maiden said the platform is able to detect whether a TB patient can respond to Anti TB drugs or not.

The Gene Xpert platforms are multi-functional and used also to test Covid-19, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer in women and girls and also can do a viral load in people living with HIV.

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