Citizens' Issues
WHO urges ban on “unreliable” blood tests for TB

The UN health agency says that more than half of the two million blood tests carried out every year to detect tuberculosis produce wrong results, putting lives in danger

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised blood tests being conducted to diagnose tuberculosis, saying they are unreliable and can produce wrong results, putting the lives of thousands of patients in danger.

The United Nations health agency has called on governments across the world to ban these diagnostic tests, which it found to be inaccurate, during a year-long analysis of as many as 94 studies covering pulmonary (67) and extrapulmonary (27) tuberculosis (TB).

More than two million of such tests are carried out every year in over a dozen countries, including India and China, according to the WHO. More than half of these tests produced false positive or false negative results.
"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," Dr Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's Stop TB department, said. "A blood test for diagnosing active TB disease is a bad practice. The test results are inconsistent, imprecise and put patients' lives in danger."

There are at least 18 of these blood tests available on the market and they are largely produced by companies in Europe and North America and exported to poor countries, often without being checked by an approved regulator, the WHO officials said. "They cost the poor $10 to $30. And yet more often than not, the results are wrong," Dr Raviglione said.

The WHO insists that medical institutions should rely on microbiological or molecular tests, which cost between $16 to $28, and give more reliable results.
"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," said Dr Karin Weyer, coordinator of TB Diagnostics and Laboratory Strengthening for the WHO Stop TB department. "It's a multi-million dollar business centred on selling substandard tests with unreliable results."

The WHO warning, which has already been passed on to several government, is the first time that it has issued such an explicit negative policy recommendation against a test for TB that kills about 1.7 million people each year, across the world. It underscores the organisation's determination to translate strong evidence into clear policy advice to governments.

Commenting on the WHO warning, Dr KK Chopra, director of the New Delhi TB Centre says, "These tests are not useful for diagnosis. In India 50% of people are already infected with TB. We are not giving importance to confirm the diagnosis in such type of patients. The main diagnosis we do is on the basis on sputum examination, ultrasound or other related investigations. While in the private sector these tests have become a fancy, they don't have much utility to confirm the patient's diagnosis. We are not giving weightage to such diagnosis."


2G scam: JPC begins quizzing former telecom secretary

AV Gokak, who served as telecom secretary between November 1996 and August 1998 was questioned about the telecom policy being pursued by the then government with regard to cellular operators

New Delhi: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam today started questioning a former telecom secretary who had served during the initial years of the NDA rule, reports PTI.

AV Gokak, who served as telecom secretary between November 1996 and August 1998, appeared before the JPC headed by Congress leader PC Chacko in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

A committee member said he was questioned about the telecom policy being pursued by the then government with regard to cellular operators.

Tomorrow, the JPC will record evidence of Mr Gokak's successor Anil Kumar, who served as telecom secretary between August 1998 and February 2000.

The NDA government had unveiled a migration policy in June 1999 during Mr Kumar's tenure, allowing cellular operators to move from fixed licence fee regime to revenue-sharing model.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had told the JPC the migration policy had led to losses to the exchequer to the tune of Rs43,523.92 crore.

The JPC is examining India's telecom pricing policy 1998-2008 that also covers the period of the NDA government led by the BJP that was in power 1998-2004.

The panel was formed following persistent demands by the opposition after allegations surfaced of irregularities in the allocation of 2G licences.


HCL Tech Q4 net up 62.13% at Rs385.59 crore

For the year ended 30 June 2011, the company reported a 30.75% jump in its consolidated net profit at Rs1,646.51 crore, up from Rs1,259.19 crore during FY09-10

New Delhi: IT services giant HCL Technologies today posted a 62.13% jump in its standalone net profit at Rs385.59 crore for the fourth quarter ended 30 June 2011 against Rs237.82 crore in the same quarter last year as per Indian accounting standards, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Its total income rose to Rs1,949.36 crore during the reporting period from Rs1,330.61 crore in the corresponding quarter of the last fiscal, up 46.5% on a standalone basis, reports PTI.

“In these times of dynamic demand and swiftly changing customer priorities, HCL is focusing on building an innovation engine that is agile, business-aligned and employee driven,” HCL Technologies vice chairman and CEO Vineet Nayar said in a statement.

The company continues to balance this thought leadership with an equally rewarding financial performance quarter by quarter, he added.

For the year ended 30 June 2011, the company reported a 30.75% jump in its consolidated net profit at Rs1,646.51 crore, up from Rs1,259.19 crore during FY09-10.

The total income of the IT firm increased to Rs15,730.43 crore for the year ended 30 June 2011, as against Rs12,136.29 crore in FY09-10 on a consolidated basis.

“We ended the financial year with impressive all-round performance. Our revenues grew by 31% year-on-year, net income grew by 35%, while cash flow conversion (ratio of cash flow from operations to net income) stands at 100% backed by efficient working capital management,” HCL Technologies CFO Anil Chanana said.

Cash and cash equivalents stood at $116.3 million as on 30 June 2011. The board of directors of the company has recommended a final dividend of Rs2 per equity share, taking the total dividend for the year to Rs7.5 per share.

During the quarter, HCL Tech added 9,572 people (gross) and 3,626 employees (net), taking the total headcount to 77,046.

HCL Tech signed 20 transformational deals this quarter in industries like manufacturing, media and publishing, telecom, BFSI, retail, hi-tech and healthcare.

For the quarter ended 30 June 2011, Americas contributed 61.5% to the revenues, while Europe and Rest of the World (RoW) contributed 24.6% and 13.9%, respectively.

Shares of the company were trading at Rs504.50 apiece in noon trade, down 2% from its previous close on the BSE.


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)