A person who visits a hospital or clinic with symptoms of the disease is sent to the laboratory to do a sputum test. A sputum sample is taken and examined with a GeneXpert and result is ready in two (2) hours.
If the patient is positive, he is counseled and commences treatment as soon as possible. In order to prevent loss to follow up during treatment, home visits are done and family members are counseled to serve as treatment supporters. Household members including children under 5 years of age living in the household of a smear positive patient are screened for TB. If they are positive they are put on treatment, if they are negative, they are put on Isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT).
New diagnostics for TB
The country has made strides in diagnosing TB cases in both adults and children. New diagnostic tools have been continually introduced to improve diagnostic capacity apart from the use of the standard light microscopes for sputum examination.
In 2007, the NTP introduced liquid culture MGIT (Mycobacterium Growth Indicator Tube) machines for the diagnosis of drug resistant TB. There are currently 6 sites in Teaching and Regional Hospitals providing service with these equipment including the National TB Reference Laboratory network of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Koforidua Regional Hospital.
In early 2013, Light Emitting Diode (LED) microscopes were introduced to 156 high burden sites to reduce workload and improve speed of diagnosis. In addition, GeneXpert technology was introduced into selected sites to improve TB diagnosis among difficult cases such as PLHIV and children and for the early detection of drug resistant TB. This has been very successful and more machines have been deployed in all Regional Hospitals and Teaching Hospitals round the country. Currently, 134 Gene Xpert machines have been procured and deployed round the country to improve TB among PLHIV and early detection of drug resistant TB cases.
The Programme has received through the Dutch and Ghana Government co-financed ORIO Grant mechanism, 52 digital x-ray machines and 2 mobile vans equipped with Digital X-ray machines deployed round the country in support of the Programme’s new strategy of active TB case finding using x-ray screening approach.
The Programme also now has capacity to conduct outreach services using the digital X-Ray mobile van as well as a mobile laboratory donated by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).