Regional Training Workshop on ground-breaking Tuberculosis Diagnostic Technology

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Laona Segaetsho, Information Specialist
Tel: 395-3982 ext. 2419, Fax: 390-6129, eMail: SegaetshoLJ@state.gov

Public Affairs Section
U.S. Embassy, Gaborone, Botswana
July 18, 2013

(#14/13) Press Release

Regional Training Workshop on ground-breaking Tuberculosis Diagnostic Technology

The U.S. Embassy is pleased to announce that the U.S. government, in partnership with KNCV, the Royal Dutch Tuberculosis Foundation and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, will host a regional training workshop on an exciting new technology designed to improve testing for tuberculosis (TB). This regional training workshop for the latest in TB technology, CepheidXpert® MTB/RIF (Xpert), will be held from July 23 – 25 at the GICC housed in the Grand Palm Hotel. U.S. Ambassador Michelle Gavin will provide opening remarks on Tuesday July 23 at 9 am at the workshop which is expected to attract experts from 11 countries. Press is invited to cover the opening ceremony, which will be held in Okavango 1 Room.

TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV/AIDS in Botswana. At 64 percent, the proportion of TB patients with HIV in Botswana is one of the highest in the world. Across Sub-Saharan Africa the rate is nearly 40 percent. One of the difficulties in effectively treating tuberculosis has been ensuring timely and accurate diagnosis. Until recently, TB control programs have relied on a diagnostic test developed more than 100 years ago. This test missed many cases, especially among people with HIV, and other available tests take many weeks or months, delaying treatment of sick patients who may unwittingly spread the disease while awaiting their test results.

The U.S. Government has been working with Botswana’s Ministry of Health to introduce and test a cutting-edge diagnostic which may offer the key to containing the spread of TB through more accurate and timely diagnosis. The Xpert test can be performed simply and safely by minimally trained staff with results in just two hours compared to weeks or months before.

The upcoming workshop is aimed at providing support to countries in the African region with implementation of the Xpert test and policy, particularly relating to diagnosis of TB in HIV-infected individuals. It will also provide a platform to share experiences, discuss emerging best practices and identify barriers and solutions to implementation challenges. At the end of the workshop, countries in the African region will have a better understanding of how they can utilize this technology within their national TB and HIV/AIDS programs.

The training workshop on Xpert is especially meant for TB and HIV/AIDS program staff, clinical experts, and laboratory experts from participating countries. Participating countries are: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Country representatives from USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, technical partners, representatives from Supranational TB Reference Laboratories serving participating countries, and technical experts from partner organizations are also invited.
Background: In December 2010, the World Health Organization recommended the use of a new test called Xpert for improved diagnosis of TB. In response to this recommendation, the United States Government has funded and initiated various programs to support African countries in their fight to combat TB. One of the main objectives of these programs is to ensure capacity, availability and quality of laboratory testing to support the diagnosis of TB and drug-resistant TB by using new innovative technologies, such as Xpert.

In May 2012, a USG Regional Workshop on Xpert MTB/RIF was organized in Mombasa, Kenya, to share experiences and provide support to countries in the early stages of Xpert implementation. Now many countries in the African region have started to roll out this new technique; this U.S.-funded workshop will provide them with additional practical guidance.

For further details, please contact: Laona Segaetsho, Information Specialist (395-3982 ext. 2419, fax: 390-6129, SegaetshoLJ@state.gov), Angelinah Matenanga, Public Affairs Secretary, (395-3982 ext. 2415, fax: 390-6129, MatenangaAB@state.gov or Sechele Sechele, SecheleS@bw.cdc.gov

Last updated: August 05, 2013

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