Home News FG advocates  enhanced TB detection with GeneXpert technology

FG advocates  enhanced TB detection with GeneXpert technology

by Haruna Gimba
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By Iyemah David

The Nigeria’s Federal Government has emphasised the critical role of innovative technology in the fight against Tuberculosis (TB).

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhmmad Ali Pate, made this known on the sidelines of the investiture on the First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, as a global and national Stop TB Champion.

TB is a major public health problem in Nigeria and globally.

According to the 2023 World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report, Nigeria has the highest burden of TB in Africa and the sixth highest burden globally, with an estimated 479,000 persons contracting the disease in 2022.

This represents an average of one person developing TB every minute in the country.

Undernutrition and HIV remain the topmost drivers of the TB burden in Nigeria.

Pate highlighted the expansion of GeneXpert equipment – a rapid molecular test for TB – to 512 health facilities by the end of 2023, with plans for further expansion.

“With Nigeria bearing a significant burden of TB, the integration of GeneXpert technology into TB screening programs has bolstered diagnostic capabilities,” he said.

The minister also noted deployment of 51 mobile digital X-ray platforms nationwide, with an additional 350 digital X-ray machines slated for deployment by June 2024.

“These advancements aim to enhance TB screening, particularly among key and vulnerable populations,” he said.

Prof. Pate said that in spite of the progress, challenges such as undernutrition, HIV and limited healthcare access persisted, contributing to Nigeria’s high TB burden.

He emphasised the importance of collaboration with the private sector and communities to bridge gaps in TB detection and treatment.

Acknowledging achievements in TB control, he reported a record number of TB cases notified in 2023, surpassing 360,000 cases.

He underscored the need to address significant gaps in identifying and treating all TB cases, particularly among vulnerable groups.

In addition to expanding diagnostic and treatment services, he said that the country’s strategy for combating TB included nationwide screening campaigns and intensified engagement with stakeholders.

He stressed the importance of addressing social determinants of TB, such as poverty and inequality, to achieve sustainable progress.

As Nigeria continues its efforts to eradicate TB, he  called for increased public awareness,  and urged the media to support TB sensitisation campaigns.

With a vision of a TB-free Nigeria, he emphasised the importance of leveraging innovative technology, including GeneXpert, to achieve this goal.

GeneXpert is a molecular diagnostic platform developed by Cepheid, a molecular diagnostics company.

It is designed to rapidly detect a variety of infectious diseases, including TB, HIV and hepatitis.

GeneXpert systems use a technology called real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify and detect specific nucleic acid sequences, such as DNA or RNA, from patient samples.

This technology allows for highly sensitive and specific detection of pathogens in a matter of hours, compared to traditional methods that may take days or weeks.

In the context of TB, GeneXpert is particularly valuable for its ability to quickly diagnose TB and determine if the TB bacteria are resistant to the most common TB drug, Rifampicin.

This rapid diagnosis enables healthcare providers to initiate appropriate treatment promptly, leading to improved patient outcomes and better control of TB transmission.

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