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WHO Releases New Guidelines on Diagnostic Techs for Drug-Resistant TB

Written by : Jayati Dubey

March 27, 2024

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In addition to the guidelines and operational handbook, WHO has introduced a new TB sequencing portal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled new recommendations on the utilization of targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests for the diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in its latest edition of the Consolidated Guidelines on Tuberculosis.

This latest module, titled Module 3: Diagnosis, focuses on rapid diagnostics for tuberculosis detection and offers a fresh perspective on the swift identification of drug resistance using state-of-the-art technologies.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, director, WHO's Global TB Program, expressed optimism about the expanding diagnostic options for drug-resistant TB, attributing this progress to increased manufacturer engagement and ongoing research efforts.

"The diagnostic options for people with drug-resistant TB are increasing thanks to manufacturer engagement and research, generating new evidence. Ensuring that everyone in need can obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis with the latest state-of-the-art technologies, will advance efforts at preventing and finally ending TB," she added.

Comprehensive Operational Guidance

Accompanying the guidelines is a comprehensive operational handbook from WHO, tailored for laboratory personnel, clinicians, and other clinical staff, as well as ministries of health and technical partners.

This handbook offers detailed guidance on implementing evidence-based recommendations, with a specific focus on the recent updates concerning targeted NGS tests.

It outlines WHO-recommended tests for the rapid bacteriological diagnosis of TB disease, along with procedures, model algorithms, and the necessary steps for implementing and scaling up these new diagnostic tools.

TB Sequencing Portal

In addition to the guidelines and operational handbook, WHO has introduced a new TB sequencing portal featuring a repository of over 56,000 sequences.

Developed in collaboration with FIND and Unitaid, this portal represents a cutting-edge knowledge base for Mycobacterium tuberculosis sequencing and phenotyping.

Notably, the portal includes a dashboard that visualizes data from the WHO mutation catalog, published in November 2023.

Equipped with a search function, the portal enables users to explore mutation frequencies and their correlation with drug resistance. Users can also download summary data and upload new sequences, which undergo automatic processing and analysis, ensuring the portal remains updated with the latest information.

The primary objective of the WHO TB sequencing portal is to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of mutations in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome and their association with drug resistance.

The portal aims to facilitate collaborative research efforts and inform strategies for tackling drug-resistant TB on a global scale by providing a platform for data sharing, visualization, and analysis.

The release of these guidelines and the introduction of the TB sequencing portal promise significant development in the fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis.

With a focus on leveraging advanced diagnostic technologies and promoting data-driven decision-making, WHO aims to empower healthcare professionals and stakeholders worldwide in their efforts to combat TB effectively.

As global efforts continue to evolve, these resources serve as invaluable tools in the pursuit of a TB-free future.

In another development, the WHO recently introduced the Risk Assessment Tool (RAST) for Biosafety and Laboratory Biosecurity, providing a valuable resource for laboratory workers engaged in high-risk environments.

Recognizing the heightened vulnerability of laboratory workers, which may be up to 1,000 times more susceptible to infections than the general population, the RAST app is designed to enhance risk assessment and improve adherence to biosafety practices.


About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org

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