Africa's first Xpert machine unveiled in Durban on World TB Day

24 March 2011 - Durban, South Africa - Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of South Africa, commemorated World TB Day by unveiling his country's first GeneXpert -- also the first such system in Africa - at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. The GeneXpert can detect TB and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) in two hours.

"In essence, we can label this technology as a 'laboratory in a cartridge' because all the processes of diagnosing TB happen in a small cartridge in a period of 120 minutes," the Minister told the Mail & Guardian. Dr Motsoaledi said they had chosen to roll out the technology in KwaZulu-Natal first because it has the highest TB incidence in the country.

Also in Durban, the Catherine Booth Hospital is undergoing the final phase of the construction of an MDR-TB unit, which has been designed with special attention to infection control. The new hospital will also include a special audio room for patients (since hearing impairment may occur during MDR-TB treatment).

The department will also be following a case-finding strategy which will be rolled out throughout the country. Teams of health professionals will conduct house-to-house visits and test residents for HIV and TB.