The Academy of Medical Sciences, in collaboration with the InterAcademy Partnership for Health (IAP for Health), convened a policy workshop on rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in London on the 21 November 2016.
Improving the development and deployment of rapid diagnostic tests in LMICs
This one-day workshop, chaired by Professor Sanjeev Krishna FMedSci, in collaboration with the IAP for Health, facilitated discussions around how to improve the development and deployment of RDTs in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The report can be downloaded from the downloads tab on the right hand side of this page or by clicking on this image.
RDTs offer a significant opportunity to improve healthcare provision in LMICs, for infectious and non-communicable diseases. They are revolutionising how disease is diagnosed and treated, and are helping to deliver higher standards of healthcare and greater efficiency across public and private health care sectors as well as at the community level.
However, for them to be optimally useful they need to be readily available, perform well and health workers who use them must be trained appropriately. Achieving this is dependent on barriers to development and deployment being identified and addressed, and all members of the community working collaboratively to support the process from discovery to deployment.
The workshop therefore brought together experts and evidence to explore the current, and potential, impact of RDTs in low and middle income settings across disease groups as well as identify barriers and challenges for developing and implementing RDTs in LMICs. The workshop also explored state-of-the-art platforms and technologies which are currently under development and in doing so facilitated cross-sector discussion and identified areas which would benefit from greater collaboration.
The participants consisted of experts based in the UK and also from a number of LMICs, including those from Academies in these countries, who were able to provide insights into RDT use in their own settings. An important part of this work will be to follow up the outcomes with them and action the recommendations.
Click here to find out more about our other GCRF workshops and read the workshop reports.
This workshop is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund that aims to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Visit our GCRF webpage to read more about the fund.
For more information about the broader work done by the Academy in this area, please see our objective page on Seizing international opportunities.
The organisation of the workshop was overseen by a steering committee based in both the UK and LMICs. The steering committee members were:
Chair: Professor Sanjeev Krishna FMedSci, Professor of Molecular Parasitology and Medicine, St George's, University of London
Professor Ajit Lalvani FMedSci, Chair of Infectious Diseases & Honorary Consultant, Imperial College London
Dr Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive Officer, FIND
Professor Lai-Meng Looi, Senior Professor of Pathology, University of Malaya, and Co-chair, InterAcademy Medical Panel
Improving the development and deployment of Rapid Diagnostic Tests in LMICs (RDTs, London 21 November 2016)
The aims of the workshop were to asses barriers to the use of RDTs and discuss solutions.
The workshop identified key areas of progress including enhancing the global profile of diagnostics, promoting development of locally-driven patient-focused diagnostics (including diagnostics for non-communicable diseases) and surveillance packages utilising data from RDTs. The private sector must be engaged with to promote local R&D and manufacturing of RDTs. This may involve providing economic incentivisation to overcome risks of market failure and identifying a list of priority diagnostics to drive investment in the most relevant areas.
In addition to gathering evidence, the policy workshops and report are designed to act as a catalyst for future policy activities and build the capacity for our national partners in LMICs to do policy work.
Top three impacts:
1. Participants agreed there was as need for a globally recognised ‘Essential Diagnostics List’ to provide guidance to national decision-makers. In May 2018, the WHO published its first Essential Diagnostics List - a catalogue of the tests required to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.
2. In Morocco, a follow up workshop was organised in 2017 to address opportunities for TB research enhancement and translation in Morocco where RDT development and needs were addressed. This workshop led to a joint venture being formed between the Centre de recherche Observational, a diagnostic products distributor (Masterlab) and a health strategic agency with the purpose to develop a TB diagnostic test
3. In the Philippines, the workshop catalysed a number of activities including:
- Diagnostics development projects were presented at both the Regional Unified Health Research Agenda (RUHRA) and National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) consultations in order to increase prioritisation.
- Further research funds were allocated by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development for diagnostics-related programmes.
- A Technical Working Group focused on diagnostic research and development.was formed.
- Interacting with the FDA and other regulatory authorities regarding diagnostic development regulation.
- The actual demand and performance of diagnostic tools currently used in local settings in the Philippines were evaluated.
In addition to these local impacts, the AMS and Philippines National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) agreed to partner on a further GCRF workshop on diagnostics that would look specifically at issues in the ASEAN region. This workshop took place in October 2018 in the Philippines, read more about this follow up workshop here.
The full case study can be downloaded from the download tab on the right.
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