The Centre Pasteur du Cameroun and the Mérieux Foundation organize the first workshop on the management of Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) to be held in French-speaking Africa

In order to adapt and implement a prevention strategy to accelerate the elimination of tuberculosis (TB) in Africa, the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun (CPC) and the Mérieux Foundation, in partnership with the Mérieux Foundation USA and with the support of QIAGEN, organized a workshop on the management of Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) on September 27 and 28, 2022, in Yaoundé.

first workshop on the management of Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI)
© Centre Pasteur du Cameroun

The workshop, which took place at the Mundi complex in Yaoundé, aimed to create a forum of experts and a platform for discussions and interactions with the parties involved on the strategy for introducing testing and treatment for latent TB among high-risk groups.

The event brought together representatives of 11 French-speaking African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, DRC and Senegal) for discussions about the WHO’s guidelines and recommendations in terms of testing and treating Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI).

The workshop was attended by the managers of national programs for dealing with TB (PNLT) or their representatives in charge of LTBI and managers of national reference laboratories for tuberculosis (NRL-TB).

Over the course of two days, the participants took part in plenary sessions, group workshops and feedback sessions with the aim of fulfilling the following specific objectives:

  • Discussing the Community approach to the monitoring and treatment of LTBI (using the APRECIT project as an example);
  • Sharing information on new treatment strategies for LTBI;
  • Reviewing the current practices of African countries when it comes to treating LTBI;
  • Exploring an approach adapted to low-income countries to test for and treat LTBI among subjects at risk;
  • Discussing the place of IGRA (Interferon Gamma Release Assays) in the clinical and public health context of current national directives;
  • Exploring sources of operational financing to support countries with the implementation of new strategies.

Various experts from the CPC, the Global Fund, the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar, the Ministry of Health in Cameroon, WHO AFRO, WHO Cameroon, QIAGEN, the NGO FIS Cameroon and the Mérieux Foundation shared their experiences on the subject of tuberculosis during the training sessions.

“The Mérieux Foundation has an intervention strategy that consists of reinforcing capacities in the countries concerned, with a focus on laboratory systems, in order to improve the approach to diagnosis in all its forms, in testing for both active TB and latent TB,” said Dr Laurent Raskine, Head of Specialized Biology at the Mérieux Foundation. He gave a speech on the main recommendations of the WHO for Latent TB Infection and new treatments for LTBI, and concluded by outlining the main requirements.

Dr Jonathan Hoffmann, Head of the TB Section at the Mérieux Foundation, presented several diagnostic tests suitable for LTBI. He also participated in a session dedicated to learning from experiences in the field, using the APRECIT project for improving the treatment of LTBI as an example.

About the WHO’s strategy for dealing with Latent Tuberculosis

As part of its new strategy to end tuberculosis, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on all countries to intensify considerably their efforts to achieve bold new targets for reducing TB deaths worldwide by 95% and by 90% (<10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) by 2035. This radical change in strategy is due to the fact that passive testing strategies and treatment under direct observation are not enough to curb the incidence of tuberculosis. This calls for a combined intervention strategy to allow the early detection of cases, systematic testing and prevention amongst contacts.

National programs for dealing with TB must go one step further to proactively reach people who might have been exposed to TB and populations that make a significant contribution to national cases. The available evidence suggests that if testing for latent TB is carried out in line with recommendations and targets the right people, it will be possible to limit the development of active TB and reduce mortality and morbidity linked with the disease.