Health

Tuberculosis: Dutch company introduces mobile clinics to combat disease in rural areas

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Tuberculosis (TB) is highly treatable and remains an unsolved problem. One of the main obstacles in the fight against TB is identifying people who don’t know they’ve been infected, as these people can unknowingly transmit the illness to a huge number of people. However, due to the taboo surrounding TB, they’re reluctant to get tested. So how can we reach these potential carriers in order to stop the disease in its tracks? In response to this question, the Dutch company Delft Imaging Systems devised a smart solution: vibrantly coloured mobile clinics that can quickly and efficiently diagnose TB in the remotest areas of the world, and if necessary, enable treatment to be started the very same day. This is a major step forwards in the fight to eradicate this disease.

Mobile clinics powered by the sun

Delft Imaging Systems has developed brightly coloured and solar powered mobile clinics that are self-sufficient and can drive to the remotest areas in the bush, the desert or the countryside in order to screen the local inhabitants for tuberculosis. The cheerful design of the clinics, which don’t suggest they are associated with TB in any way, shape or form, helps make diagnosis and treatment more accessible and acceptable. Screening can be conducted in less than a minute thanks to digital X-ray scans and the TB detection software CAD4TB, and no radiologist is required as the software’s artificial intelligence can immediately indicate whether or not the person’s lungs may be infected with TB.  If this is the case, the GeneXpert GXP lab test can provide a definitive diagnosis within two hours. All of these advancements enable the clinics to screen up to 300 people a day anywhere in the world.

Win-win

Guido Geerts, CEO of Delft Imaging Systems, is proud of this valuable innovation in the fight against TB. “In many places, especially remote areas, TB is a major taboo and because people don’t want to be associated with the disease in any way, they often only see a doctor once they really have to. As a result, these people could be walking around with the illness for months or even years, unwittingly infecting the people around them. Our mobile clinics can help to counteract this taboo and diagnose TB anywhere in the world, which will be a major step forwards in our struggle to wipe out TB once and for all. We have invited local artists to paint the clinics in bright, cheerful colours so people do not have to be afraid of the exterior design of the clinics. And not only do the designs help break the taboo, but they also attract people to come and admire the artwork, at which point they often come inside to take a test there and then. It’s a win-win!”

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