WHO/Europe has launched a new online course to strengthen the capacity to diagnose drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) using molecular techniques. This free course, entitled “Drug-resistant tuberculosis: how to interpret rapid molecular test results”, is available on the OpenWHO platform and includes opportunities for participants throughout the world to seek expert advice for their diagnostic questions.
Improving detection of drug-resistant TB is crucial to eliminate TB
DR-TB, a major threat for global health, particularly affects the WHO European Region where the proportion of DR-TB among new and previously treated TB patients significantly exceeds the global average. DR-TB is a result of the inadequate treatment of TB and/or poor airborne infection prevention in health care facilities and congregate settings. In 2018, the first United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the fight against tuberculosis recognized DR-TB as a top global priority to be addressed in order to accelerate progress towards the elimination of TB.
In many countries, patients with DR-TB are either not diagnosed at all or receive a delayed diagnosis, leading to the further spread and an increased severity of the disease. WHO-endorsed molecular techniques, which allow for faster and improved detection of DR-TB, should be adopted more widely to enable earlier treatment and help break the transmission cycle.
The new evidence-based online course on Open WHO is particularly relevant for laboratory experts who perform tests for DR-TB detection and for clinicians who use DR-TB test results in their routine clinical practice. By the end of the course, participants should have improved their ability to interpret test results for selected WHO-endorsed molecular tests, according to the latest WHO guidelines. At a time when many people are confined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this online training is especially important to facilitate national experts to learn at their own pace and in the settings available to them.
A unique combination of practical guidance and expert advice
Participants can exchange experiences in course forums and benefit from laboratory experts that are available to address their key questions through the forums and a dedicated pilot email service. The most relevant issues and frequently asked questions will be shared on the course website, which will be enriched with feedback from participants and the wider scientific community.
The course consists of four modules and accompanying offline training materials, and overall requires approximately five hours to complete. Participants who answer at least 80% of the test questions correctly will receive a certificate of participation.
The course was developed by the European Laboratory Initiative on TB, HIV and Viral Hepatitis (ELI), an independent advisory and support group active in the field of laboratory services, the Secretariat of which is hosted by WHO/Europe. ELI experts, supported by a wider advisory group, will provide the expert advice.
OpenWHO is WHO’s interactive, web-based platform that offers online courses to people who are preparing to work, or are already working, in epidemics, pandemics and health emergencies. The OpenWHO platform delivers the expertise of WHO and its partners closer to where it is needed and provides information in user-friendly formats for frontline responders and decision-makers.