Luis Cuevas was a loved and valued member of the LSTM community but his research into TB diagnostics and treatment had a truly global impact.
Luis was constantly striving to bring health services closer to people who needed them, improving world-wide access to TB healthcare for all. He began by exploring the possibility of same day diagnosis for TB patients. Luis led studies in several countries, which confirmed that sputum tests collected on one day, gave just as accurate positive or negative TB results as samples taken over multiple days.
His work in this area led to a WHO (World Health Organisation) policy revision.
Luis wanted his work to lead to earlier diagnosis for people with TB and also better access to treatment for a broader range of people.
More recently, Luis worked on studies around pooling samples – an approach that allows more people to be tested with rapid molecular testing, for the same time and cost. Work is ongoing in this area to strengthen the evidence base for this approach and push for WHO to provide a policy update soon.
Luis’ second area of work focused on community-based active case finding and he led work in this area in Ethiopia, especially around patient experience and Nigeria as well as other places.
Luis’s work demonstrated a commitment to proactively seeking and treating people with TB and evidenced how better community engagement can lead to earlier, more successful treatments.
We now take for granted that all TB programs have aspects of active case finding and community outreach, but this wasn’t always the case. Luis’ efforts led to WHO changing its screening guidelines in 2013; these guidelines were further updated and expanded in 2021.
Luis’ determination to change the global landscape for TB patients has improved the quality of life for people in countries where TB is most prevalent. His work mentoring up and coming scientists will ensure that groundbreaking gains continue to happen in the area of TB research and treatment.