The World Health Organization has strongly advised against using blood tests for tuberculosis, citing the tests' unreliability and dangerousness.
The infectious lung disease affects 14 million people, many in third-world countries. Additionally as many a third of the world's population has the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.
It's a deadly disease and the emphasis on unsafe and unreliable testing isn't helping the situation.
The tests are not reliable and a waste of money and time, putting proper care at risk, Mario Raviglione, the director of WHO's Stop TB department, told the Associated Press.
In the best interests of patients and caregivers in the private and public health sectors, WHO is calling for an end to the use of these serological tests to diagnose tuberculosis.
The policy recommendation comes after the organization evaluated the issue for a year, as well as looked at numerous studies on tuberculosis. This is the first time that WHO has issued a negative policy, encouraging people to not use a certain test.
One of the main issues is doctors encouraging patients to use the blood tests instead of the more reliable microbiologist method because the doctors receive a financial kickback, alleges WHO.
Many of these tests are used in the private-for-profit sector, charging poor people who do not understand the lack of value of the test, Raviglione said.
The dangerous blood kits are largely made in the United States and Europe, where they do not pass regulatory measures, and then exported to poor third-world countries.
The third-world countries think they are getting quality medical equipment to deal with a serious medical issue, but in reality are being hoodwinked.
Blood tests for TB are often targeted at countries with weak regulatory mechanisms for diagnostics, where questionable marketing incentives can override the welfare of patients, Dr. Karin Weyer, Who's Stop TB director of diagnostics, told Medical News.
It's a multi-million dollar business centered on selling substandard tests with unreliable results, she said.