Recent Journal Articles by Muluken Melese Aseresa

This study compared the yield of TB among contacts of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) index cases with that of drug-sensitive TB (DS-TB) index cases in a program setting. The yield of TB among contacts of MDR-TB and DS-TB using GeneXpert was high as compared to population-level prevalence. The likelihood of diagnosing RR (Rifampicin Resistant)-TB among contacts of MDR-TB index cases is higher in comparison with contacts of DS-TB index cases. The use of GeneXpert in DS TB contact investigation has an added advantage of diagnosing RR cases in contrast to using the nationally recommended AFB microscopy for DS TB contact investigation.

In 2011 the Help Ethiopia Address the Low TB Performance (HEAL TB) Project used WHO or national TB indicators as standards of care (SOC) for baseline assessment, progress monitoring, gap identification, assessment of health workers’ capacity-building needs, and data quality assurance. In this analysis we present results from 10 zones (of 28) in which 1,165 health facilities were supported from 2011 through 2015. The improvement in the median composite score of 13 selected major indicators (out of 22) over four years was significant. The proportion of health facilities with 100% data accuracy for all forms of TB was 55.1% at baseline and reached 96.5%. In terms of program performance, the TB cure rate improved from 71% to 91.1%, while the treatment success rate increased from 88% to 95.3%. In the laboratory area, where there was previously no external quality assurance (EQA) for sputum microscopy, 1,165 health facilities now have quarterly EQA, and 96.1% of the facilities achieved a ≥ 95% concordance rate in blinded rechecking. The SOC approach for supervision was effective for measuring progress, enhancing quality of services, identifying capacity needs, and serving as a mentorship and an operational research tool.

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.

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 improve tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis, many national TB programmes have committed to deploying Xpert® MTB/RIF. Implementation of this relatively new technology has suffered from a lack of comprehensive technical assistance, however, including the formulation of policies and plans to address operational issues. While providing technical assistance, we observed numerous operational challenges in the implementation and scale-up of Xpert in five sub-Saharan African countries: low coverage, poor laboratory infrastructure, limited access, poor linkages to treatment, inadequate data on outcomes, problems with specimen transport, diagnostic algorithms that are not aligned with updated World Health Organization recommendations on target patient groups and financing challenges. We recommend better country preparedness and training, laboratory information and quality systems, supply management and referral mechanisms.

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.

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.

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