Updated on 20 February 2013
Serological tests for TB are unreliable
An estimated 1.5 million patients undergo diagnostic tests for Mycobacterium tuberculosis in India every year and this number has been steadily increasing along with the number of confirmed cases. The adverse scenario is further compounded by the lack of reliable serological diagnostic tests.
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The lack of a dependable serological test is so acute that even the World Health Organization (WHO) in its policy recommendation suggested that a ban be implemented on such tests as unreliable serological tests give imprecise results and cause inconsistent diagnosis of TB, thus leading to risk to human lives. This recommendation was taken very seriously and the Indian government recently banned the use of serological tests for TB. Trends in the TB diagnostic markets in India have been rapidly changing and serological tests have recently drawn a lot of criticism from experts.
Dr Madhukar Pai, associate professor, McGill University, Canada, said that, "Repeated results have shown that these tests are inaccurate and misleading and are costly. So, just because doctors are widely using them does not make it right. Popularity of a test or product does not make it valid. You need hard scientific data to show that the tests are valid and accurate."