Diagnostics are central to assessing the presence of disease in an individual, helping to identify the cause and determine an appropriate course of treatment or intervention. 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.

Low-cost, good-quality diagnostics that can be used easily, are available locally and are stable, 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.

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