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Global Fund, USAID and Stop TB Partnership’s new collaboration with molbio diagnostics will increase access to Rapid Molecular Tests for TB

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Stop TB Partnership announced a new collaboration Thursday with Molbio Diagnostics that significantly reduces the price of the Truenat® MTB and MTB Plus tests, including a supply of MTB-RIF Dx tests for subsequent testing for rifampicin resistance, and ensures timely service and maintenance of diagnostic instruments. This collaboration will expand equitable access to quality rapid testing to underserved populations across all countries supported by the Global Fund, USAID and the Stop TB Partnership.

Although rapid molecular tuberculosis (TB) tests are endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the standard of care, less than 40% of people in need of TB testing in 2021 had access to a rapid molecular diagnostic test. Major barriers in expanding access to testing include high operating costs, infrastructure challenges and inefficient executions. This significant gap in access to rapid molecular testing for TB and drug resistance stands as one of the largest shortfalls in the global TB response today.
 
In 2020, WHO endorsed three of Molbio Diagnostics’ rapid molecular Truenat® assays (Truenat® MTB, MTB Plus and MTB-RIF Dx) for the initial diagnosis of TB and subsequent detection of rifampicin resistance in adults and children with signs and symptoms of pulmonary TB. With the WHO recommendation, Molbio Diagnostics is positioned as a welcomed new key player to fight TB worldwide.
 
As part of this collaboration, the Global Fund and the Stop TB Partnership will sign new deals with Molbio Diagnostics to Provide Truenat® MTB, MTB Plus and MTB-RIF Dx tests at the reduced price in all countries supported by the Global Fund, Stop TB Partnership and USAID; Reinforce commitment to service and maintenance by providing a global standard service level agreement with defined key performance indicators and Extend similar pricing to public and private sector buyers, where terms are applicable. USAID, in collaboration with ministries of health and partners, will continue to provide critical guidance and best practices on the introduction and scale-up of the Truenat® system in a range of high TB burden settings to increase access through network development, health care worker training, quality assurance monitoring and support.

Welcoming this news, Executive Director of the Global Fund Peter Sands said, “We are delighted to partner with Molbio Diagnostics. They play a crucial role in meeting the need for improved diagnostic solutions and technologies. We look forward to making these TB products more affordable and accessible in the countries where we invest.”

“USAID is committed to creating a TB-free world, and that starts with expanding access to critical diagnostic testing to reach every person with TB,” said Dr. Atul Gawande, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health. “This new technology will allow countries to expand rapid TB diagnostic testing to more rural, hard-to-reach populations at the primary care level –and at a significantly lower cost than current testing options.”

“This is a historical moment,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. “For the first time ever, we have a rapid molecular test for TB and rifampicin resistance that is less than US$8 per test, more than 20% lower than what is currently available on the market for these types of tests. We also have an amazing ‘package of services’ offered by Molbio, and a commitment to offer low prices for private sector providers. We are thrilled by this collaboration with a company from the highest TB burden country that fully understands the need for securing access to a rapid molecular diagnosis for everyone in need. I hope we all feel now even more comfortable saying ‘Yes! We can end TB.’”

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