Avi Brand, Kwikpoint
The sputum test is the simplest laboratory test for TB, and it's been in use for over a hundred years. It is very cheap, can be performed in minutes, and is one of the most widely-used TB tests. However, the WHO estimates that it only identifies 35% of patients with active TB. There are many factors that have to be taken into account when analyzing that number, such as the cleanliness of the labs and doctor training, but the quality of the sputum smears themselves is crucial. If the sample is made from saliva or infected with food or other bacteria, it can result in a false negative. Put simply, patients often don't perform the sputum smear test correctly, leading to false negatives and higher mortality. The Sputum Collection Procedure Visual Guide, created for use in clinics in South Africa with support from USAID, is given as a visual aid handout for individuals asked to provide samples for the Sputum Smear Microscopy Test, based on WHO procedures. It uses attractive, culturally appropriate "visual language" to increase the quality of patient samples, and thereby the efficacy of the sputum test.
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