The US Agency for International Development (USAID) donated six state-of-the-art digital X-ray machines to the National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT) and several provincial health departments on June 27 in order to help reach the goal of ending tuberculosis (TB) in Cambodia by 2030.

According to the press release, the mobile X-ray machines will be installed to screen and diagnose people for TB and will complement other forms of diagnostic testing available at public referral hospitals and community clinics in 10 districts that are currently underserved in terms of healthcare.

USAID will support the installation of artificial intelligence (AI) software for use with the X-ray machines. The software will enable the digital detection of TB by analysing X-rays of patients' lungs using an algorithm developed from a vast archive of X-ray images of lungs both with and without the disease present. The software is then able to identify even the tiniest of differences between them, including some that may not even be perceptible to the human eye.

"In addition, these machines will play an important role in the third national TB prevalence survey taking place later this year," the release said.

Cambodia is no longer on the global list of the 30 countries with the most widespread presence of TB; however, there are still an estimated 20,000 untreated TB cases in the country, according to the release.

USAID said it is committed to supporting Cambodia's TB programme through this initiative and other projects that are improving case finding, diagnostics, monitoring and evaluation of patients suffering from the disease.

Erin Nicholson, USAID Cambodia's acting mission director, said that controlling TB is a global priority and USAID is proud to support the Ministry of Health’s commitment to ending the disease in Cambodia by 2030.

“The X-ray machines we hand over today will help find missing TB cases in the community and will improve health for the most vulnerable Cambodians," she said.

CENAT director Huot Chanyuda told The Post on June 28 that the six state-of-the-art digital X-ray machines provided by USAID through the Khana project had been delivered to hospitals in Phnom Penh and the provincial capitals of Kandal, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum.

He said these machines are useful for TB research and the diagnosis of TB in a timely and prompt manner, which can help serve the health of the people of Cambodia.

Chanyuda stated that, CENAT is currently continuing to focus on active TB transmission in prisons and some communities, and the health departments continue to get updates on the latest research on the topic.

"We are working on this now that Covid-19 is decreasing and we will make arrangements to move forward according to our plan," he said. "And these X-ray machines will help us to achieve the goals of that plan."

Following the abatement of the Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia, there was a significant increase in the number of TB cases nationally, with over 10,000 TB cases detected in the first half of 2022, according to CENAT.