To understand the potential contribution that social support interventions (SSI) can have in mitigating the personal, social and economic costs of tuberculosis (TB) treatment on patients, and improving treatment outcomes, we conducted a literature search to identify psycho-emotional (PE) and socio-economic (SE) interventions provided to TB patients and to assess the effects of these interventions on treatment adherence and treatment outcomes. We searched PubMed and Embase from 1 January 1990-15 March 2015 and abstracts of the Union World Conference on Lung Health from 2010-2014 for studies reporting TB treatment adherence and treatment outcomes following SSI. Twenty-five studies were included in the qualitative analysis; of which eighteen were included in the meta-analysis. Our review and meta-analysis concluded that PE and SE interventions are associated with beneficial effects on TB treatment outcomes. However, the quality of evidence is very low and future well-designed evaluation studies are needed.

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.

Priority digital health products will be profiled and developed to support the scale-up of WHO's End TB Strategy.

The objective of this study was to compare the diagnostic yield of GeneXpert MTB/RIF with Ziehl-Neelson (ZN) sputum smear microscopy among index TB cases and their household contacts. A cross sectional study was conducted among sputum smear positive index TB cases and their household contacts in Northern Ethiopia. Results: Of 353 contacts screened, 41 (11%) were found to have presumptive TB. GeneXpert test done among 39 presumptive TB cases diagnosed 14 (35.9%) cases of TB (one being rifampicin resistant), whereas the number of TB cases diagnosed by microscopy was only 5 (12.8%): a 64.3% increased positivity rate by GeneXpert versus ZN microscopy. The number needed to screen and number needed to test to diagnose a single case of TB was significantly lower with the use of GeneXpert than ZN microscopy. Of 119 index TB cases, GeneXpert test revealed that 106 (89.1%) and 5 (4.2%) were positive for rifampicin sensitive and rifampicin resistant TB, respectively. GeneXpert test led to increased TB case detection among household contacts in addition to its advantage in the diagnosis of Rifampicin resistance among contacts and index TB cases. There should be a consideration in using GeneXpert MTB/RIF as a point of care TB testing tool among high risk groups.

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.

We reviewed literature on HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan African prisons published between 2011 and 2015, and identified data from only 24 of the 49 countries in the region. Where data were available, they were frequently of poor quality and rarely nationally representative. Prevalence of HIV infection ranged from 2·3% to 34·9%, and of tuberculosis from 0·4 to 16·3%; detainees nearly always had a higher prevalence of both diseases than did the non-incarcerated population in the same country.We identified barriers to prevention, treatment, and care services in published work and through five case studies of prison health policies and services in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, and Benin. These barriers included severe financial and human-resource limitations and fragmented referral systems that prevent continuity of care when detainees cycle into and out of prison, or move between prisons. These challenges are set against the backdrop of weak health and criminal-justice systems, high rates of pre-trial detention, and overcrowding. A few examples of promising practices exist, including routine voluntary testing for HIV and screening for tuberculosis upon entry to South African and the largest Zambian prisons, reforms to pre-trial detention in South Africa, integration of mental health services into a health package in selected Malawian prisons, and task sharing to include detainees in care provision through peer-educator programmes in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. However, substantial additional investments are required throughout sub-Saharan Africa to develop country-level policy guidance, build human-resource capacity, and strengthen prison health systems to ensure universal access to HIV and tuberculosis prevention, treatment, and care of a standard that meets international goals and human rights obligations.

In this opinion paper, we discuss lessons learned from the global scale-up of these laboratory devices and the pathway to tapping the potential of laboratory-generated information in the field of TB by using connectivity. Responding to the demand for connectivity, innovative third-party players have proposed solutions that have been widely adopted by field users of the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay. The experience associated with the utilisation of these systems, which facilitate the monitoring of wide laboratory networks, stressed the need for a more global and comprehensive approach to diagnostic connectivity. In addition to facilitating the reporting of test results, the mobility of digital information allows the sharing of information generated in programme settings. When they become easily accessible, these data can be used to improve patient care, disease surveillance and drug discovery. We list several examples of initiatives that should allow data sources to be combined to improve the understanding of the epidemic, support the operational response and, finally, accelerate TB elimination.

Ethambutol (EMB) resistance can evolve through a multistep process, and mutations in the ubiA (Rv3806c) gene appear to be responsible for high-level EMB resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We evaluated the prevalence of ubiA and embB (Rv3795) mutations in EMB-resistant strains originating from Africa and South Korea. No differences in embB mutation frequencies were observed between strains from both origins. However, ubiA mutations were present in 45.5% 6.5% of the African EMB-resistant isolates but in only 9.5% 1.5% of the South Korean EMB-resistant isolates. The ubiA mutations associated with EMB resistance were localized to regions encoding the transmembrane domains of the protein, whereas the embB mutations were localized to regions encoding the extramembrane domains. Larger studies are needed to investigate the causes of increased ubiA mutations as a pathway to high-level EMB resistance in African countries, such as extended EMB usage during tuberculosis treatment.

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.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common infections of humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Virtually all of the population living below the World Bank poverty figure is affected by one or more NTDs. New evidence indicates a high degree of geographic overlap between the highest-prevalence NTDs (soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma) and malaria and HIV, exhibiting a high degree of co-infection. Recent research suggests that NTDs can affect HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria disease progression. A combination of immunological, epidemiological, and clinical factors can contribute to these interactions and add to a worsening prognosis for people affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. Together these results point to the impacts of the highest-prevalence NTDs on the health outcomes of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB and present new opportunities to design innovative public health interventions and strategies for these "big three" diseases. This analysis describes the current findings of research and what research is still needed to strengthen the knowledge base of the impacts of NTDs on the big three.


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