UK EXPERT ON ANTI-TB EFFORTS: “Are we reaching the poor?”

September 13, 2018 | 9:36 am

For a UK TB expert, this is the most crucial question in the efforts to eliminate TB.

“There is a clear relationship between tuberculosis and poverty,” asserts Professor Bertie Squire of the United Kingdom’s Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). Thus, he says, for medical care services to be truly effective in battling the disease, these services should be readily accessible for TB patients.

This was the crux of a lecture delivered by Prof. Squire at De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institue on August 15, 2018, at the De La Salle Villarosa Convention Hall. Titled, “Are we reaching the poor? Impact Assessment for TB Control: Global and Local Experiences,” Prof. Squire’s lecture emphasized the new opportunities in current TB diagnostic technology like LED Fluorescence Microscopy, GeneXpert, MTB/RIF to Ultra & Omni and the accompanying need to define and establish their place within health systems and other aspects of clinical decision making, including patient impact. He said that the current TB program modes of screening by symptoms and diagnosis by sputum microscopy are not sufficient for an early diagnosis of patients with TB.

During his talk, Prof. Squire also encouraged the medical students in attendance to use their knowledge to serve humanity, as they continue to seek expertise in their profession. “Your profession is unique because you sit on the border of science and humanity. Always remember, when you qualify as doctors that you are in a unique position to take that knowledge into the new sphere. Think about the fact that you are doing an amazing decision. You have unique insights from your interaction with patients – What does it mean that this patient came to you today? What can you do with your particular skills to make a difference in your patient’s case? Remember how immensely important you are in changing the future situation. I’m sure you can identify that particular skill that you have that sits on that juncture between humanity and medical science.”

In his remarks before the lecture, DLSMHSI Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Charles Yu, shared that the institution is very privileged to have a speaker like Professor Bertie Squire who is the world’s leading expert in health economics assessment in TB. “I have personally witnessed how Prof Squire keeps on repeating this question – How will it reach the poor? – to presenters. That’s how important accessibility is to him. Dr. Yu has been working with Prof Squire in the past three years in a major research project titled Impact Assessment of Diagnostic Tools for Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR-TB) and Drug Sensitive Tuberculosis (DS-TB) in the Philippines.” The study was touted as an important component of the Philippine’s fight against TB which continues to be the 6th largest cause of illness and death among Filipinos as it aimed to identify the most cost-effective way of using diagnostic tools to improve detection rates of patients with both TB and its more potent offspring – the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis
(MDR-TB). This project is part of the Newton Agham Program or the UK-Philippines Joint Heath Research Grant for Infectious Diseases.

An expert in Clinical Tropical Medicine, Professor S. Bertel Squire is director of the Center for Applied Health Research and Delivery (CAHRD) of the Liverpool Schoo of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and past president of The International Union Against TB and Lung Disease. Together with his colleagues at LSTM, Malawi, and China, he has built a program of multi-disciplinary applied health research aimed at providing knowledge for action in making health services for TB more accessible to poor people in developing countries.

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