HEAL-TB

To determine the yield and determinants of retrospective TB contact investigation in selected zones in Ethiopia, we conducted a community-based cross-sectional study during June-October 2014.Trained lay providers performed symptom screening for close contacts of index cases with all types of TB registered for anti-TB treatment within the last three years. Of 272,441 close contacts of 47, 021 index cases screened, 13,886 and 2, 091 had presumptive and active TB respectively. The yield of active TB was thus 768/100, 000, contributing 25.4% of the 7,954 TB cases reported from the study zones over the study period. The yield of retrospective contact investigation was about six times the case notification in the study zones, contributing a fourth of all TB cases notified over the same period. The yield was highest among workplace contacts and in those with recent past history of contact. Retrospective contact screening can serve as additional strategy to identify high risk groups not addressed through currently recommended screening approaches.

SETTING: Amhara and Oromia Regions, Ethiopia.OBJECTIVE: To determine trends in case notification rates (CNRs) among new tuberculosis (TB) cases and treatment outcomes of sputum smear-positive (SS+) patients based on geographic setting, sex and age categories.METHODS: We undertook a trend analysis over a 4-year period among new TB cases reported in 10 zones using a trend test, a mean comparison t-test and one-way analysis of variance.RESULTS: The average CNR per 100 000 population was 128.9: 126.4 in Amhara and 131.4 in Oromia. The CNR in the project-supported zones declined annually by 6.5%, compared with a 14.5% decline in Tigray, the comparator region. TB notification in the intervention zones contributed 26.1% of the national TB case notification, compared to 13.3% before project intervention. The overall male-to-female ratio was 1.2, compared to 0.8 among SS+ children, with a female preponderance. Over 4 years, the cure rate increased from 75% to 88.4%, and treatment success from 89% to 93%. Default, transfer out and mortality rates declined significantly.CONCLUSION: Project-supported zones had lower rates of decline in TB case notification than the comparator region; their contribution to national case finding increased, and treatment outcomes improved significantly. High SS+ rates among girls deserve attention.

A child's risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) can be reduced by nearly 60% with administration of 6 months course of isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT). However, uptake of IPT by national TB programs is low, and IPT delivery is a challenge in many resource-limited high TB-burden settings. Routinely collected program data was analyzed to determine the coverage and outcome of implementation of IPT for eligible under-five year old children in 28 health facilities in two regions of Ethiopia. A total of 504 index smear-positive pulmonary TB (SS+) cases were reported between October 2013 and June 2014 in the 28 health facilities. There were 282 under-five children registered as household contacts of these SS+ TB index cases, accounting for 17.9% of all household contacts. Of these, 237 (84%) were screened for TB symptoms, and presumptive TB was identified in 16 (6.8%) children. TB was confirmed in 5 children, producing an overall yield of 2.11% (95% confidence interval, 0.76-4.08%). Of 221 children eligible for IPT, 64.3% (142) received IPT, 80.3% (114) of whom successfully completed six months of therapy. No child developed active TB while on IPT. Contact screening is a good entry point for delivery of IPT to at risk children and should be routine practice as recommended by the WHO despite the implementation challenges.

Ethiopia has achieved rapid expansion of TB microscopic centers for acid fast bacilli (AFB). However, external quality assurance (EQA) services were, until recently, limited to few regional and sub-regional laboratories. In this paper, we describe the decentralization experience and the result of EQA using random blinded rechecking. We decentralized sputum smear AFB EQA from 4 regional laboratories (RRLs) to 82 EQA centers and enrolled 956 health facilities (HFs) in EQA schemes. From 2012 to 2014 (Phase I), the false positivity rate declined from 0.6% to 0.2% and false negativity fell from as high as 7.6% to 1.6% in supported HFs. In HFs that joined in Phase II, FN rates ranged from 5.6% to 7.3%. The proportion of HFs without errors increased from 77.9% to 90.5% in Phase I HFs and from 82.9% to 86.9% in Phase II HFs. Overall sensitivity and specificity were 95.0% and 99.7%, respectively. Positive predictive and negative predictive values were 93.3% and 99.7%, respectively. Decentralizing blinded rechecking of sputum smear microscopy is feasible in low-income settings. While a comprehensive laboratory improvement strategy enhanced the quality of microscopy, laboratory professionals' capacity in slide reading and smear quality requires continued support.

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