Strengthening TB diagnostic networks in South Africa is critical to ending TB by 2030

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the National Department of Health/National TB Program (NTP) to conduct the TB diagnostic network assessment. The mission took place from 27 February to 10 March 2023. Technical experts from the Stop TB Partnership, FIND, Uganda Supranational reference laboratory, USAID and several other organizations undertook the diagnostic network assessment in 46 facilities in all the 9 Provinces of South Africa. The purpose of the diagnostic network assessment is to assess whether the TB diagnostic network is in line with the current objectives and needs of the national TB strategic plan.  

Additionally, the TB assessment is part of ongoing efforts to overall strengthen and improve access to TB diagnostic, treatment, services and care for affected people and their communities in the country. The Stop TB, through its long standing partnership with USAID, supports countries to optimize and introduce a people-centered diagnostic pathway which is one of the key goals for TB programs. This is also outlined in Stop TB’s Global Plan to End TB 2023-2030.  “By doing this, we are one step closer to reaching our goal of ending TB by the year 2030,” said Lucy Mupfumi, Diagnostics Project Officer, Stop TB Partnership.

 During the diagnostic network assesment, TB clinics were also visited. At the TB clinics, the assessors traced the pathway from policy guidelines to implementation and sputum sample collection to results management, to evaluate how effective and efficient the diagnostic network is in providing patient-centered treatment and care for those affected by this deadly infectious disease


Instructions to patients pasted on the wall of the TB clinic at a facility in Gauteng Province

                                    Instructions to patients pasted on the wall of the TB clinic at a facility in Gauteng Province 


The assessment team also used a tool developed by USAID that incorporates elements of the African Society of Laboratory Medicine’s Lab Net scorecard and the Global Laboratory Initiative TB indicators. The tool covers 10 capacities: political, regulatory, and financial framework, structure and organization of the diagnostic network, diagnostic network coverage, diagnostic algorithm and the laboratory-clinical interface, biosafety, equipment and supplies, workforce, diagnostics data management, quality of the diagnostic network and TB/HIV integration. Findings and recommendations from the diagnostic assesment will be incorporated in the NTP strategic plan currently being finalized.


                                                                     Lucy Mupfumi, with assessors and staff of the NHLS-Braamfontein laboratory, Gauteng Province