It looks like the city of Cape Town is stepping up its fight against Tuberculosis, as health care workers have set up a low-cost ‘makeshift’ mobile TB screening room in the Gugulethu township, a known TB hotspot area, according to Reuters.
Parked on the roadside next to a graveyard in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township, a tuberculosis hotspot, a team of health workers set up a makeshift TB screening room next to their van. https://t.co/J3LhUjqiaI pic.twitter.com/6jfUPfLEmW
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) March 27, 2021
In total, around 10 mobile screening rooms will be rolled out across South Africa, mainly targeted at poor communities to diagnose TB patients. The goal behind the mobile screening rooms is to test a large number of people for TB in a short amount of time. The mobile screening rooms use a rapid testing model to test patents, and results can be ready within 90 minutes.
The mobile screening rooms are based out of a van that is equipped with a battery-operated portable molecular diagnostic tool, which is used to detect TB DNA in sputum (saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages). The researchers behind the low-cost mobile screening rooms hope this method could be used to prevent the further spread of TB in poor communities.
As an added benefit, the mobile testing rooms, which are part of a larger study called Xpert for Active Case Finding (XACT), will also screen for COVID-19 at the same time.
“It is a potential game-changer. To use an analogy, XACT and active case finding closes the tap rather than just mopping the floor,” said Professor Keertan Dheda, principal investigator and head of the pulmonology division at the University of Cape Town, as reported by Reuters.
The mobile testing rooms could not have arrived at a better time, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last year that the number of TB related deaths could rise significantly, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant reduction in Tb testing and diagnosis.