Courtesy of MSF 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) turned over on March 24 a mobile X-ray van and a GeneXpert-10 Color diagnostic machine to its Tondo tuberculosis (TB) project in the City of Manila.  

The project will benefit a target population of 600,000 individuals in Districts 1 and 2 of Tondo, according to Dr. Marve Duka-Fernandez, Tondo TB project coordinator of MSF Philippines.  

The machine can detect multidrug-resistant TB.  

“Since the GeneXpert machine has an added feature of determining fluroquinolone resistance, it shortens the turnaround time for patients whose specimens turn out to be rifampicin-resistant,” said Dr. Fernandez.   

Although TB treatment is free in all barangay health centers in the country, laboratory and monitoring tests may incur some fees.  

Those whose X-ray results come out with probable TB in the mobile van will be asked to submit sputum on-site, which will then be delivered to the GeneXpert machine covering the area for confirmatory testing.  

Rapid detection of the disease paves the way for an early treatment regimen and an increased chance of survival.    

“We are aiming to document and advocate for the lessons we will have learned from this project, and allow the partners [the Manila Health Department, the Department of Health, and health centers] to replicate the strategies and practices that will prove effective, appropriate, and acceptable to the people,” Dr. Fernandez told BusinessWorld.

According to the Department of Health, TB incidence will decrease by 12% from 2018 to 2023 (from 554 cases per 100,000 to 418).

Its Race to End TB dashboard shows that the National Capital Region has thus far had the most gains in the disease’s reduction.

Patricia B. Mirasol