Commissioner and secretary, IT and health, D.P. Wahlang, along with archbishop Dominic Jala, inaugurates the laboratory at Nazareth Hospital on Friday
Shillong, March 15: Meghalaya will now have its very own tuberculosis drug susceptibility testing by line probe assay, following the certification issued to the department of microbiology, Nazareth Hospital, under the National Mycobacteriology certification system of central TB division, ministry of health.
This laboratory, inaugurated today by commissioner and secretary, IT and health, D.P. Wahlang, will be the second Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program certified laboratory in the Northeast and the first in a Catholic institute of the country.
The cost of the laboratory was borne by the administration alone, without any external funding.
Drug susceptibility testing involves finding out which drugs the tuberculosis bacteria in a person are sensitive to, and therefore, whether the person has got drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Conventional screening procedures, coupled with poor drug quality, have added to the rising incidence of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Dr Michael Mawlong, in-charge, department of microbiology, believes in the success of the new testing facility.
“Tuberculosis diagnosis involves a phenotypic and genotypic approach. The latter directly looks into the DNA of mycobacterium tuberculosis and ascertains whether the organism is sensitive or resistant. Phenotypic diagnosis, however, involves the physical growth of the organism,” he said, adding that the rapid screening procedures can initiate early treatment with the reduced possibility of losing the patient.
Moreover, a detailed battery of anti-tuberculosis drug sensitivity tests can be run.
The accuracy of such tests is also very promising as liquid culture is well known to be most sensitive.
“In a wide range of studies, the sensitivity varies from 90 to 98 per cent, with pooled data from WHO field trials saying it is 97 per cent sensitive and 99 per cent specific. This is more than adequate for the task at hand,” Mawlong added.
Nazareth Hospital started this TB culture and Line Probe Assay in December 2011 on their own initiative.
The Central Tuberculosis Division, New Delhi, asked them to get themselves accredited and to serve as the State Drug Susceptibility Testing Laboratory using LPA.