Three international organisations, the Global Fund, USAID and Stop TB Partnership, have entered into a collaboration with Molbio Diagnostics to expand access to the Goa-based company’s Truenat platform.

Molbio, a point-of-care molecular diagnostics company, is the inventor of the Truenat platform and the collaboration “will enable countries to procure the WHO-endorsed Truenat platform at internationally negotiated prices, making the technology more accessible and affordable across the world”, the  company said.

The partnership is a crucial move in the global fight to end tuberculosis by 2030. Truenat is a portable, battery-operated, multi-disease, real-time PCR platform with a sample-to-result time of less than an hour. The platform can test over 40 diseases, including Covid-19, TB, HCV, HBV, HIV, HPV, dengue, malaria, influenza, herpes and typhoid, Molbio said, and it can be deployed at peripheral health facilities.

As many as day, 4,400 people die from TB daily due to lack of access to testing and treatment resources. According to the WHO Global TB report 2022, an estimated 10.6 million people became ill with tuberculosis in 2021, compared with 10.1 million in 2020, and 1.6 million people died from tuberculosis in 2021. In India, 21.4 lakh TB cases were registered in 2021, 18 per cent more than in 2020, the note said.  

Indian tech

The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme has deployed Truenat in over 3,500 PHCs/CHCs across states. The international collaboration will enable other countries to adopt this Indian technology in their national TB programmes, it said.

 Atul Gawande, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health, said, “This new technology will allow countries to expand rapid TB diagnostic testing to more rural, hard-to-reach populations at the primary care level — and at a significantly lower cost than current testing options.”

 Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, said,  “For the first time ever, we have a rapid molecular test for TB and rifampicin resistance that is less than $8 per test, more than 20 per cent lower than what is currently available on the market for these types of tests.  We also have an amazing ‘package of services’ offered by Molbio, and a commitment to offer low prices for private sector providers.