Easy and child-friendly tuberculosis diagnosis in rural Ethiopia

Mesay Gebre and her family of five live in Umiya, a mostly rural region in Ethiopia. They depend completely on agriculture and health facilities are scarce. After Mesay fell ill, she went through quite a journey to get her tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment. And then her young son fell ill as well. Normally, diagnosing a child is much more difficult and painful, but thanks to the SOS Stool Method from KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, this wasn’t the case for Mesay’s son Birhanu.

Mesay was the first member of her family to get symptoms. Her first visit was to the nearest health center, which is a three-hour walk from her home. She was diagnosed to have pneumonia and was given antibiotics. However, after completing the treatment, she did not show any improvement. She was then referred to Gebere Tsadik Shewa hospital – which is a two-day walk from home. There her sputum was examined, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and started her treatment.

Her youngest child Birhanu, 6 months at the time, developed a cough. Rapidly his appetite decreased, his weight dropped and he got severely sick. He was taken to the same hospital as where Mesay was diagnosed.

Diagnosing TB in children

Usually, sputum is used to determine whether someone has tuberculosis. For children this is a painful and difficult procedure, because they can’t cough up sputum, they swallow it. Therefore, children get a tube in their nose, that goes down all the way to their stomachs to collect the sputum. The clinicians weren’t able to collect Birhanu’s sputum in the hospital. However, they were able to take a sample of his stool and sent it for Gene Xpert testing.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) was diagnosed from the stool. Birhanu was diagnosed to have pulmonary TB and started his treatment. His mother Mesay says, “I am so grateful for my and Birhanu’s health. It’s such a relief knowing we are on our treatment now and gaining strength.”

The SOS Stool Method

Gebere Tsadik Shewa hospital is one of health facilities supported by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation under the PODTEC project. The goal of this project is to improve TB case dianosis amongst children through contributing to the development of the Simplified One-Step (SOS) Stool Method, which greatly improves the access to a painless, affordable and easy TB test for children.

Join us at the SOS Stoolbox symposium!

We are proud to announce that we will launch our SOS Stool Toolbox tomorrow during a symposium starting at 13.00 CET. During the symposium we will dive into the “Simple One-Step (SOS) stool method” for the processing of stool for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by using the GeneXpert technology. During this symposium, the method will be explained and preliminary results from ongoing projects will be presented.


Photo credit: Nigussie Birhane, PODTEC Zonal Project Coordinator

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 120 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB prevention and care, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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