New WHO recommendations issued to improve access to rapid molecular tests for the detection of TB and drug-resistant TB

13 July 2021

Article: 55/2804

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an update to its consolidated guidelines on the detection of tuberculous (TB) and drug-resistant TB. The guidelines are accompanied by an operational handbook to facilitate implementation and roll out of rapid molecular tests by national TB programmes, ministries of health and technical partners.

Globally, diagnosis remains a challenge, with a third of people with TB and two-thirds of people with drug-resistant TB not being detected. Instead of sputum smear microscopy, the WHO recommend use of rapid molecular assays as the initial test to diagnose TB, as they have been reported to have high diagnostic accuracy and should lead to major improvements in the early detection of TB and drug-resistant TB. The WHO state that bacteriologically confirmed diagnosis of people with TB should be accelerated, with the expansion of access to rapid molecular tests.

Source: WHO, 7 July 2021