Recent Journal Articles by Pedro Suarez

Our objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrated care for TB, HIV and diabetes mellitus (DM) in a pilot project in Ethiopia. Of 3439 study participants, 888 were patients with DM, 439 patients with TB and 2112 from HIV clinics. Tri-directional screening was feasible for detecting and managing previously undiagnosed TB and DM.

The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the nationally approved ambulatory service delivery model for MDR-TB treatment in two regions of Ethiopia. We used routinely reported data to describe the process and outcomes of implementing an ambulatory model for MDR-TB services in a resource-limited setting. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of MDR-TB treatment-initiating centers increased from 1 to 23. The number of sputum samples tested for MDR-TB increased 20-fold, from 662 to 14,361 per year. The backlog of patients on waiting lists was cleared. The cumulative number of MDR-TB patients put on treatment increased from 56 to 790, and the treatment success rate was 75%. Rapid expansion of the ambulatory model of MDR-TB care was feasible and achieved a high treatment success rate in two regions of Ethiopia.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that increases immunity against tuberculosis (TB), decreases the re-activation of latent TB and reduces the severity of active TB disease. Epidemiological studies on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB have shown inconsistent results in different countries. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with TB in Northwest Ethiopia. A case–control study was conducted among smear positive pulmonary TB patients and their household contacts without symptoms suggestive of TB. Study participants were recruited at 11 TB diagnostic health facilities in North and South Gondar zones of Amhara region between May 2013 and April 2015. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among TB patients and non-TB controls in Ethiopia, where there is year-round abundant sunshine. Study participants with TB, females, older age groups, and urban residents had significantly higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. These findings warrant further studies to investigate the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of TB in high TB burden countries like Ethiopia.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Afghanistan, but experience in implementing effective strategies to prevent and control TB in urban areas and conflict zones is limited. This study shares programmatic experience in implementing DOTS in the large city of Kabul. We analyzed data from the 2009–2015 reports of the National TB Program (NTP) for Kabul City and calculated treatment outcomes and progress in case notification. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of DOTS-providing centers in Kabul increased from 22 to 85. In total, 24,619 TB patients were enrolled in TB treatment during this period. The case notification rate for all forms of TB increased from 59 per 100,000 population to 125 per 100,000. The case notification rate per 100,000 population for sputum-smear-positive TB increased from 25 to 33. The treatment success rate for all forms of TB increased from 31% to 67% and from 47% to 77% for sputum-smear-positive TB cases. In 2013, contact screening was introduced, and the TB yield was 723 per 100,000—more than two times higher than the estimated national prevalence of 340 per 100,000. Contact screening contributed to identifying 2,509 child contacts of people with TB, and 76% of those children received isoniazid preventive therapy. The comprehensive urban DOTS program significantly improved service accessibility, TB case finding, and treatment outcomes in Kabul. Public- and private-sector involvement also improved treatment outcomes; however, the treatment success rate remains higher in private health facilities. While the treatment success rate increased significantly, it remains lower than the national average, and more efforts are needed to improve treatment outcomes in Kabul. We recommend that the urban DOTS approach be replicated in other countries and cities in Afghanistan with settings similar to Kabul.

A total of 1,221 adolescents living with HIV, in eight health facilities in Ethiopia, were screened for TB. The TB incidence rate was 16.32 per 100 PYO during pre-antiretroviral therapy (pre-ART) follow-up but declined to 2.25 per 100 PYO after initiation of ART. IPT use was associated with a significant reduction in TB incidence in the ART cohort, but not in the pre-ART group.

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.

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.

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.

To determine the yield of a household contact investigation for tuberculosis (TB) under routine programme conditions. The objective of this study was to determine the yield of a household contact investigation for tuberculosis (TB) under routine programme conditions.Between April 2013 and March 2014, TB clinic officers in Amhara and Oromia regions, Ethiopia, conducted symptom-based screening for household contacts of 6,015 smear-positive TB (SS+ TB) index cases. We calculated the yield in terms of number needed to screen (NNS) and number needed to test (NNT). The NNS to detect a TB case all forms and SS+ TB was respectively 40 and 132. The NNT to diagnose a TB case all forms and SS+ TB was respectively 2.4 and 8. The yield of the household contact investigation was over 10 times higher than the estimated prevalence in the general population; household contact investigations can serve as an entry point for childhood TB care.

To document the prevalence of multidrug resistance among people newly diagnosed with--and those retreated for--tuberculosis in Malawi, we conducted a nationally representative survey of people with sputum-smear-positive tuberculosis between 2010 and 2011. For all consenting participants, we collected demographic and clinical data, two sputum samples and tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).The samples underwent resistance testing at the Central Reference Laboratory in Lilongwe, Malawi. All Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates found to be multidrug-resistant were retested for resistance to first-line drugs – and tested for resistance to second-line drugs--at a Supranational Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory in South Africa. Overall, M. tuberculosis was isolated from 1777 (83.8%) of the 2120 smear-positive tuberculosis patients. Multidrug resistance was identified in five (0.4%) of 1196 isolates from new cases and 28 (4.8%) of 581 isolates from people undergoing retreatment. Of the 31 isolates from retreatment cases who had previously failed treatment, nine (29.0%) showed multidrug resistance. Although resistance to second-line drugs was found, no cases of extensive drug-resistant tuberculosis were detected. HIV testing of people from whom M. tuberculosis isolates were obtained showed that 577 (48.2%) of people newly diagnosed and 386 (66.4%) of people undergoing retreatment were positive. The prevalence of multidrug resistance among people with smear-positive tuberculosis was low for sub-Saharan Africa--probably reflecting the strength of Malawi’s tuberculosis control programme. The relatively high prevalence of such resistance observed among those with previous treatment failure may highlight a need for a change in the national policy for retreating this subgroup of people with tuberculosis.

Background: Worldwide, there were 650,000 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases in 2010, and in 2008 the World Health Organization estimated that 150,000 deaths occurred annually due to MDR-TB. Ethiopia is 15th among the 27 MDR-TB high-burden countries.

The aim of this study was to assess predictors of mortality among TB-HIV co-infected patients being treated for TB in Northwest Ethiopia. An institution-based retrospective cohort study was conducted between April, 2009 and January, 2012. Despite the availability of free ART from health institutions in Northwest Ethiopia, mortality was high among TB-HIV co-infected patients, and strongly associated with the absence of ART during TB treatment. In addition cotrimoxazole prophylactic therapy remained important factor in reduction of mortality during TB treatment. The study also noted importance of early ART even at higher CD4 counts.

Setting: The National Tuberculosis Programs of Ghana, Viet Nam and the Dominican Republic. Objective: To assess the direct and indirect costs of tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment for patients and households.

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