New TB testing machine to produce results much faster

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pretoria - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi reaffirmed government's commitment in the fight against TB as he unveiled the new TB testing equipment, GeneXpert.

The new TB diagnostic machine will make the results of the diagnosis available within two hours, as opposed to the current three weeks.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban, Motsoaledi urged all South Africans to work with the department in ensuring that the country's TB burden is reduced.

"South Africa is still one of the countries in the world with the highest burden of TB. We know that the scourge of HIV and Aids has also complicated our TB situation, given the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB. 

"I am quite happy to unveil this new technology as this equipment will assist us in reducing the time we have to wait before our patients get their TB results, including MDR TB", said the minister.

The new technology is one of only five such machines in the whole world. 

Motsoaledi said the department was developing a national roll-out plan that will see such machines being distributed throughout the country.

"We have chosen to start here in eThekwini because this district has the highest TB cases in the country, but we know the problem is national and we therefore have to take a national approach in our response to this challenge."

The event coincided with the World TB Day commemorated annually on 24 March. March is designated to build public awareness with the "Kick TB Campaign", which aims to involve scholars in the fight against TB and promote healthy lifestyles.