The next time you walk into a diagnostic centre in Hyderabad to submit your blood for Tuberculosis (TB) detection, you better think twice and take the test results with a pinch of salt. Since this June, the Government of India (GOI) has banned blood tests for TB diagnosis because they are simply inaccurate.

The GOI in its notification said that serological tests had no role to play in the diagnosis of TB and blood tests were only giving ‘imprecise’ and ‘inconsistent’ results. However, local TB authorities maintain that a majority of diagnostic centres, perhaps due to lack of awareness, in Hyderabad continue to collect blood samples for TB detection.

“According to a host of studies, every year close to 15 lakh persons in India undergo blood tests for TB detection spending Rs. 75 crore on the diagnostic tests. Blood tests are simply inaccurate and the public should keep that in mind,” advises Chairman, Zonal Task Force, TB Control Programme, Dr. K. Subhakar.

The Central government has banned the use of blood tests and diagnostic kits for TB detection under section 10A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940. “The WHO had conducted a series of studies on the efficacy of blood tests and directed the governments of various countries to ban blood testing for TB diagnosis. Such tests are costly and inaccurate,” Dr. Subhakar said.

Typically, a battery of TB blood tests would cost anywhere from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 4,500 in Hyderabad. Thanks to the inaccuracy of blood tests, persons with no TB could have undergone treatment because their blood tests indicated that they were positive.