KZN’s private sector leads technological assault on TB

Today, Lancet Laboratories Durban announced it is the first private sector pathology laboratory in Africa to install the latest weaponry in TB diagnostic technology, the GeneXpert® Infinity.

With one of the highest incidence rates of tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa and an emerging epidemic of multi drug-resistant TB and HIV/TB co-infection, the new Infinity technology will provide private healthcare users in KwaZulu-Natal with improved TB diagnostic and monitoring services.

Like previous GeneXpert® models available across South Africa, the Infinity is also capable of producing an accurate and rapid diagnosis of TB in just two hours. However, unlike earlier models, the Infinity system is self-operational; enabling Lancet Laboratories’ Durban laboratory to dramatically improve workflow efficiencies and increase the number of TB samples processed 24/7.

Dr Peer, microbiologist, Lancet Laboratories said, “This is the most efficient TB testing system of its kind, and the only fully automated molecular TB diagnostic tool available. What’s more, because the Infinity can literally work through the night, we can process substantially more patient samples, turnaround results quicker and, importantly, start people on treatment earlier.”

The Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in eThekwini was the first facility in Africa to offer the Infinity system and remains the only public healthcare facility in Africa to use this sophisticated technology.

“We believe Lancet Laboratories’ recent installation of the Infinity TB testing technology will allow the private healthcare sector to complement existing government services in KZN, helping to further fight TB in this highly affected province,” concludes Dr Peer.

Recently endorsed by the World Health Organisation, this latest technology is a major improvement on the sputum smear microscopy technology that many countries, including SA, still predominantly rely on. It is worth noting that the conventional diagnostic method, which was developed over 100 years ago, can take up to three months to generate a result.

This new test also provides rapid detection of rifampicin resistance, which can be used as a marker to identify multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Dr Keshree Pillay, microbiologist, Lancet Laboratories, said, “With an estimated 500 000 new cases of MDRTB diagnosed globally, it is critical that emphasis is placed on providing healthcare professionals with access to more accurate and effective means of diagnosing TB and MDR-TB.”

“Furthermore, with the ability to turn around results in one day, Lancet Laboratories hopes that fewer patients in South Africa will be lost to follow-up, and rather than waiting weeks and months to receive a diagnosis, patients can actually commence treatment 24 hours after the test is taken – helping reduce the spread of the disease as well as the incidence of serious TB-related morbidity and mortality,” concluded Dr Pillay.

Download this article in PDF format – KZN GeneXpert Press Release