THE problem of sample contamination in lab testing for possible tuberculosis patients needs to be addressed.
This was one of the topics discussed at Monday's public lecture on Operational Research at the FNU Pasifika Campus in Suva.
Mun Reddy from the National Tuberculosis Program, in his presentation titled Practice of TB Culture in Fiji, 2010-2012, said laboratories were often unable to provide accurate reliable data to patients regarding their TB status.
"It's not just a local issue. It's an issue globally and it has to be addressed, so this operational research has opened doors for us to rectify the problems and straighten the loopholes," Mr Reddy, who was one of the speakers at the lecture, said in an interview.
"So why is this contamination an issue for us? Because the contamination reduces the sensitivity of our tests and at the end, the patients suffer because we're not able to pick out the cases and put them on treatment."
Mr Reddy said ideally, improving technology could lead to greater benefits for the labs as well as members of the public.
"Fiji's a low burden TB country, but it's interesting because if we standardise and improve our methods, maybe we can detect more cases.
"The contamination culture result is invalid and there are people out there with TB and that we couldn't pick out from this because of the contamination.
"We'd love to strengthen this for the betterment of TB care in Fiji."