Tuberculosis (TB)

Italy provides funding for Xpert MTB/RIF roll-out in high burden settings in Africa

05 September 2012 | Geneva

The World Health Organization and Government of Italy today signed an agreement which paves the way for the Italian Ministry of Health to fund the implementation of Xpert technology in selected countries in Africa.

The agreement provides for €300 000 to be used for the implementation of Xpert MTB/RIF in poor settings through field implementers and the establishment of sustainable systems for rapid TB and MDR-TB diagnosis. This intervention will likely save thousands of lives as well as help reduce suffering of patients and their communities, and the risk of drug resistance.

“WHO welcomes this much-needed contribution by the Italian Ministry of Health to support the roll-out of the most innovative and advanced technology for TB detection in Africa" says Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department. "Xpert MTB/RIF offers great potential for rapid case detection, enabling timely and appropriate patient care in African settings facing high burdens of HIV-associated TB and multidrug-resistant TB”.

The health project focuses on:

  • Increasing access to rapid diagnosis of TB and MDR-TB in selected countries of Africa and strengthening capacity of local TB laboratories;
  • Engaging field implementation agencies or organizations that are able to manage TB and MDR-TB in coordination with national programmes, and testing applicability of innovative tools such as Xpert MTB/RIF at the settings closest to the point-of-care, or where relevant;
  • Accelerating diagnosis of TB and MDR-TB among difficult-to-diagnose groups such as people living with HIV/AIDS and children;
  • Coordinating, providing technical assistance and monitoring the establishment of sustainable models of programmatic management of TB and MDR-TB, and facilitating new policy making and production of guidelines at national level.

The project will be implemented in two African countries as part of comprehensive national plans to roll out Xpert technology. It is part of WHO's global coordination effort to support countries in implementing this technology in collaboration with other partners.