TB detection in The Gambia: a new era

On Thursday 16th June, the Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia, under the auspices of The United Nations Global Fund donated 11 flourescent microscopes to the National TB Reference Laboratory which is hosted by the Gambia’s National Public Health Laboratories.

Flourescent microscopes are capable of identifying  at least 10% more TB cases than conventional light microscopes.  From left: Professor Tumani Corrah; Hon Fatim Badjie - Minister of Health; Dr Makie Taal – Director, National Public Health Laboratories; Mr Adama Jallow – National Leprosy & TB Control Programme.

Flourescent microscopes are capable of identifying at least 10% more TB cases than conventional light microscopes. From left: Professor Tumani Corrah; Hon Fatim Badjie - Minister of Health; Dr Makie Taal – Director, National Public Health Laboratories; Mr Adama Jallow – National Leprosy & TB Control Programme.

The ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Hon Fatim Badjie.  Professor Tumani Corrah, Unit Director, MRC Unit The Gambia represented the Medical Research Council.

This donation is part of the Medical Research Council’s ongoing commitment to TB control efforts in The Gambia.  The MRC is a principal co-recipient of a Global Fund Round 9 TB grant, which includes a proposal to upgrade TB diagnostic capabilities at peripheral laboratories to the standard recommended by WHO.  Through this grant and via direct contributions, the MRC is building capacity, has procured fluorescent (iLED) microscopes and will support the implementation of fluorescent microscopy for routine diagnosis of TB in the greater Banjul area.

Dr Ifedayo Adetifa (MRC Unit The Gambia) – Principal Investigator Global Fund Round 9 TB project.

Dr Ifedayo Adetifa (MRC Unit The Gambia) – Principal Investigator Global Fund Round 9 TB project.

These new iLED microscopes enable fluorescence microscopy for TB diagnosis without the need for a purpose built dark room.  This method is more sensitive than the conventional light microscopes: using these microscopes routinely will identify at least 10% more TB cases than would otherwise be possible with the use of regular light microscopy on sputum smears.

Prompt identification of TB patients will enable the early commencement of treatment, interrupt community and household TB transmission and contribute to The Gambia’s efforts to control TB.