Diagnostics can range from complex tests that need specialist skills and equipment and that can only be carried out in a laboratory setting, to rapid tests (such as dipstick tests) that can be performed in the patient’s own home or community.
Low-cost, good-quality diagnostics that can be used easily, are available locally and are stable across a range of conditions (such as temperature and humidity) are particularly important for the developing world where poverty, poor access to treatment facilities, and inadequate health systems can delay patients seeking treatment.
Diagnostics are also important at the population level, as they can help monitor the effectiveness of interventions (both therapeutic and preventative), follow the spread of disease, and indicate the presence of drug resistance. Through screening, diagnostics can prevent or limit disease outbreaks.
TDR related research
TDR has played a crucial role in initiating evaluations of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for several diseases – such as dengue, tuberculosis (TB), and sexually transmitted diseases. For example, evaluations of rapid malaria tests helped incentivise manufacturers to meet international performance recommendations based on the evaluation programme.
TDR’s extensive scrutiny on a variety of tuberculosis tests underpins 12 WHO diagnostics policies. This includes a WHO recommendation to end the use of serological tests to diagnose TB – the first such negative policy recommendation issued by the organisation against a widely used care measure.
An overview of community case management of malaria, which involves community-based providers diagnosing and treating the disease.
Profiles of two TDR Clinical R&D Career Development Fellows working with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) on malaria and tuberculosis rapid diagnostic tools.
Information about ANDI, which promotes African-led product R&D innovation and was initiated at TDR (and now hosted at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia).
Key challenges to eliminating neglected tropical diseases identified
Tanzania identifies access and delivery research priorities
ANDI established at UNOPS in Ethiopia
Research identified for managing childhood fevers
Funding to PDPs for neglected diseases research drops 20%
TDR Performance assessment framework
Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test Performance - Results of WHO product testing of malaria RDTs: Round 4 (2012)
Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test Performance – Results of WHO product testing of malaria RDTs: Round 3 (2010-2011)