Making an impact in Africa header
TB Management

Making an impact in Africa

Making an impact in AfricaA task with a mission: helping the thousands of refugees and migrants dependent on fast and accurate latent TB results.

Amadou Gueye throws on a lab coat before grabbing a pair of blue disposable gloves and a small black bag tucked away in his backpack. Inside the bag are a brush, a small air pump, an eyeglass cloth, and a spray can of compressed air that could be mistaken for deodorant. “I tried to bring cleaner-aerosol, but they took it from me at the airport,” says Gueye.

A morning flight brought the Sub-Saharan market development manager from neighboring Rwanda to the Ugandan capital, Kampala. He is visiting the International Organization for Migration (IOM) medical department lab, a United Nations agency for the resettlement of the thousands of refugees and migrants who pass through every year.

Join Amadou Gueye as he walks through the crowded streets of Kampala, on his way to a testing lab as an expert in the field – a career he has dreamed of since he was a child.
TB is a dangerous disease, but it’s curable. It’s a pity that people are still dying from tuberculosis, and I believe we can better manage this disease.

Amadou Gueye, Sub-saharan Market Development Manager for QIAGEN

High demand for reliable TB tests

The ultimate goal is to move away from the less reliable skin tests to blood tests (IGRAs), such as QuantiFERON in high burden areas. The skin test has its limitations when testing people who have received the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine, often used in countries with a higher incidence of TB. With vaccinated individuals, a positive reaction to a TB skin test is not necessarily a confirmed infection since it could be a cross-reaction to the BCG vaccine itself. Blood tests are not affected by prior BCG vaccination and are less likely to give a false-positive result.

In early 2018, The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on screening for latent TB infections, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine has mandated the use of more precise blood-based TB tests for more reliable immigration screenings.

These tests are now a requirement for refugees or migrant laborers to enter the borders of Western governments, such as the U.S., Canada, and Sweden, to ensure that no carriers of the dangerous bacterium spread the disease.

Making an impact in Africa
Amadou Gueye works as a Sub-Saharan market development manager for QIAGEN. The native Senegalese is a professional traveler, continuously flying back and forth between his home in Paris and the African continent. He has visited almost 50 cities so far, marketing QuantiFERON, educating officials on the importance of standardizing TB testing, and ensuring that latent tuberculosis testing equipment is fully functional. The medical lab technician holds a master’s degree in advanced studies of individual diagnostics and wants to establish a higher standard of care in Africa with QIAGEN TB solutions.

“What keeps me going is the fact that our tests can help people find a better life,” says Gueye. The laboratory medical technician ensures that the laboratories in Africa are properly equipped to test for latent TB. “Only with reliable results can these people continue their travel,” Gueye explains. “We really make an impact here.”

Just how much of an impact is clear as Gueye catches a glimpse of the Somali and Rwandan families sitting on their packed suitcases outside the laboratory. The most reliable and efficient laboratory technology is the biggest help for these people as they wait for their examination.

This is Gueye’s mission – to ensure the best care is provided. He is currently in the area to consult with Moses Mwesigwa, the IOM’s chief laboratory technician, on the set up of the laboratory for implementation of QuantiFERON-TB Plus testing. Dust, heat, humidity, power shortages – conditions in Africa are more challenging than in other regions for high-tech lab equipment, and Gueye ensures that everything runs smoothly by training local lab technicians how to properly maintain their lab in any environment. “We have a great state of readiness for Africa,” Gueye says.
Making an impact in Africa uganda's health system
Uganda's Health System has been eroded by decades of corruption and decline. Clinics barely have any medicines on hand - not even surgical gloves or Band-Aids. With one of the highest birth rates in the world and a rapid urbanization rate, the danger of a TB outbreak in Uganda is very high and could swiftly lead to an epidemic. This is especially true when the majority of the population can’t afford to see a doctor for a simple cough. Gueye's challenge is convincing decision makers and leaders with influence in the health ministries that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – that investing in routine tests now is ultimately cheaper than curbing a possible outbreak later.
My goal for the next five years is to establish our QuantiFERON-TB solutions as the standard of care for latent TB infection diagnosis on the African continent.
Amadou Gueye, Sub-saharan Market Development Manager for QIAGEN

A dangerous companion

Tuberculosis can be a dangerous companion among refugees. In 2016, Swiss and German researchers studied patients originating from the Horn of Africa and Sudan who had been diagnosed with multidrug-resistance TB. All of the isolates shared capreomycin resistance due to a tlyA mutation linked to an M tuberculosis clone circulating in Northern Somalia or Djibouti. They believed this to be the first mutation of its kind in M tuberculosissensu stricto.

The risk of tuberculosis outbreaks is heightened at migrant routes in many parts of the world, mostly because of malnutrition and bad sanitation in overcrowded camps. That is the reason why many countries of the Western world require QuantiFERON-tests for refugees before allowing them to enter their territories.

Source: The Lancet Medical Journal

Making an impact in Africa dangerous companion
What keeps me going is the fact that our latent TB tests can help people find a better life.
Amadou Gueye, Sub-saharan Market Development Manager for QIAGEN

Taking the situation as it is

In other parts of the world, similar maintenance services are completed via the technical hotline instead of in person. In Africa the culture is different: “You turn to the people you know here”, says Gueye from his native Senegal. That's why he's willing to play contact person for his African customers even if it means his mobile phone never seems to stop ringing.

On this trip to Uganda, he has also managed to set up a consultation with the managers of the national tuberculosis program. “My goal for the next five years,” Gueye says, “is to establish our TB solutions as the standard of care for latent TB diagnosis on the African continent.”

70 cities in 10 months

Every two weeks Gueye flies back and forth between his home in Paris and the African continent – he’s been to 70 cities in the past 10 months alone. Every time Gueye gets on a plane, his 10-year-old son pushes a thumbtack into a world map to mark his father’s next destination. “I explain to my kids that I help doctors in Africa to help people.”

For his job at QIAGEN, he is happy to travel to places “where nobody else wants to go,” knowing it makes a positive impact on the people there. Recently, he spent two days traveling to a refugee camp in Makere, Tanzania, where he helped reestablish the testing process for latent TB infection using QuantiFERON. “It was one of my most memorable experiences in this job,” he reflects.

July 2019