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FIND and IHF partner with MCGM to expand access to COVID-19 and TB dual testing in Mumbai

To expand rapid, onsite COVID-19 confirmatory testing for symptomatic people who test negative to rapid antigen tests, and facilitate TB screening of people with COVID-19 symptoms, FIND and IHF are deploying five Truenat machines at select MCGM-run hospitals in Mumbai

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The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the India Health Fund (IHF), a Tata Trusts initiative, announced that they are deploying five Truenat machines – an innovative, multi-disease diagnostic platform developed by Goa-based Molbio Diagnostics – at select MCGM-run hospitals in Mumbai, to support testing efforts led by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) for, both, COVID-19 and tuberculosis (TB).

COVID-19 and TB share similar clinical presentations and are both transmitted through respiratory droplets and aerosols. A combined strategy to tackle both diseases is in line with the Union Health Minister’s recent pledge to build on private and social impact efforts to fight TB. It also bolsters the government’s approach to address both diseases with the same focus.

Ramping up testing in Mumbai to meet the dual challenges of COVID-19 and TB includes implementing recent bi-directional screening guidelines (i.e. to conduct COVID-19 screening in all people diagnosed TB, and screen for TB all those who are COVID-19 positive), issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.

Truenat is a chip-based, molecular diagnostic platform, developed in India in collaboration with FIND and with support from IHF, among others. It delivers test results in under 60 minutes. It uses reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to test for multiple diseases including TB, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) validated an assay for COVID-19 before the end of May 2020.

“The announcement will enhance rapid COVID-19 confirmatory testing, at the same hospital, for symptomatic people who test negative to rapid antigen tests. Each of the select MCGM sites are now being equipped with the Truenat platform, requisite laboratory staff, test cartridges and consumables. The testing facilities will be in the same premises or in close vicinity of the rapid antigen testing site(s), which will minimise sample collection and transportation challenges, reduce waiting times for patients, and limit the chances to spread COVID-19. As a result, more cases of COVID-19 should be identified, better patient management will be possible, and hotspots can be rapidly identified – in line with MCGM’s 4T (Tracing, Tracking, Testing and Treating) strategy,” informed the stakeholders through a release.

Madhav Joshi, CEO of India Health Fund, said, “By supporting multi-disease platform solutions such as Truenat, we are accelerating the identification, development and deployment of innovations to scale and augment existing health system capacities. Innovations are enabling the strengthening of the healthcare response and to that effect we are supplementing the MCGM’s sustained efforts in the screening, diagnosis of TB and COVID-19.”

Sanjay Sarin, Head of FIND India, said, “Faced with the dual burden of TB and COVID-19, integrated screening for both diseases is a critical step forward for Mumbai. This collaboration with IHF and MCGM will save lives by enabling timely testing and streamlining patient processes, which will help limit the spread of disease.”

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