By Prof. Blandina Theophile Mmbaga & Norah Owaraga.

“It is very expensive to be poor.” This observation by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (RIP) is perhaps even more poignant today in the context of the tuberculosis (TB) scourge within East Africa – at regional, country and individual household levels. Poverty indeed sustains TB

Control of TB requires proper diagnosis and treatment among other public health interventions. The gold standard for diagnosis of TB for many years, since the 18th century, and which is still the most accessible in TB high incidence countries, is the Sputum Smear Microscopy. However its sensitivity is below 80 percent.

 There are other tests such as TB Culture, but these too come with challenges of low detection limits, are prone to contamination and have huge turn-around-time (six to eight weeks depending on the type of culture medium used).

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