Banned TB blood test continues to haunt patients

Banned TB blood test continues to haunt patients

Banned TB Blood Test Continues To Haunt Patients. US returned Rekha’s life was shattered when she was told that she was suffering from tuberculosis.

US returned Rekha’s life was shattered when she was told that she was suffering from tuberculosis. She went to a homeopathic doctor in Vasavi Nagar recently when she fell ill. The doctor suggested a blood test for her at a well known diagnostic centre at Malkajgiri. The report confirmed that she was infected with TB. Shattered, she went to the Government Chest Hospital at Erragadda for treatment.

Her joy knew no bounds when she was told that she was not suffering from TB as her blood tests had indicated. She underwent further tests to confirm that she was fine. Patients like Rekha, who feel cheated by TB Quantiferon Gold test, make a beeline to the Chest Hospital for confirmation every day. Dr Subhakar Kandi, professor of the pulmonary medicine at Government Chest Hospital, said the TB Quantiferon Gold test does not give a conclusive report on the presence of active bacterium. According to reports, 40 per cent Indians have inactive bacterium and those with active bacterium are subjected treatment. The World Health Organisation had banned the blood test for screening of TB as other reliable tests are available at an affordable price. Yet the doctors and hospitals subject the patients to such tests.

The TB Quantiferon Gold test is indicate of inactive bacteria in the body rather than active bacteria. 64,000 people have been diagnosed as suffering from active bacteria in the country.

Dr Subhakar said the patients with active bacterium are treated with available drugs. “We get 5 to 6 such cases every day at the out patients wing of the hospital. Unfortunately, some of the doctors have been recommending serum tests, which can cause serious damage to patient in general and the society at large, if the patients are not suffering from the TB.

Moreover, if the doctor goes ahead with treatment, then the bacterium would develop resistance,” he explained. An intervention by consortium of laboratories in private sector-- Initiative for Promoting Affordable Quality TB Tests (IPAQT) has brought the costs down to Rs 1,600. It would take two hours to announce the result.

Though cheap options are available to patients, some of doctors including homeopaths are prescribing the blood test for TB for Rs 2,500. The drug controller had failed to destroy the kits of TB Quantiferon Gold though the tests were banned way back in December 2011.

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