USAID Supports Knowledge Sharing in Innovative Tuberculosis Laboratory Diagnostics

In Tashkent this week, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Health, and the Uzbekistan National Specialized Medical Science Center for Tuberculosis and Pulmonology (Center for Tuberculosis and Pulmonology) held two three-day seminars for laboratory specialists on testing for Tuberculosis (TB) using the GeneXpert system. GeneXpert is a state-of-the-art laboratory technology that provides TB diagnosis in less than two hours, instead of the months it used to take.

With support from the USAID TB Control Program, for the first time laboratory specialists from regional TB dispensaries in all regions of Uzbekistan had the opportunity to master the GeneXpert TB diagnostics technology under the guidance of Kristians Korns, an international expert who represents Cepheid (USA), a world’s leading manufacturer of laboratory equipment. Technologies like GeneXpert not only provide fast and accurate TB diagnosis but they are also able to detect particular strains of TB, which is critical to ensuring timely and appropriate TB treatment and reducing the spread of the disease.

Under its TB Control Program, USAID has been providing TB knowledge-sharing initiatives for Uzbekistan’s healthcare providers since 2015, through study-tours abroad and by bringing the world’s leading experts to Uzbekistan. The workshops on GeneXpert were conducted at the Center for Tuberculosis and Pulmonology’s National Reference Laboratory for laboratory specialists.

Khusnora Razhabova, a manager from the inter-regional culture laboratory at the Bukhara Regional TB Hospital, reflected on the experience: “Thanks to the GeneXpert training, we have learned how to quickly and accurately diagnose TB so that our patients can immediately start treatment. We will pass these new skills to our colleagues at regional laboratories countrywide and, ultimately, save many more lives ”.

USAID supports the Republic of Uzbekistan Ministry of Health in implementing the National TB Program by providing more effective and accessible TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for all, including vulnerable populations. The main objective of the five-year, $7.6 million USAID TB Control Program is to reduce the burden of tuberculosis and prevent multidrug-resistant forms of the disease. The program covers a wide range of technical areas, including strengthening the health system’s human and institutional capacity, improving interagency coordination and cooperation, and increasing access to TB diagnosis and treatment.