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Free Content Community involvement in tuberculosis control: lessons from other health care programmes

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Decentralising tuberculosis control measures beyond health facilities by harnessing the contribution of the community could increase access to effective tuberculosis care. This review of community-based health care initiatives in developing countries gives examples of the lessons for community contribution to tuberculosis control learned from health care programmes. Sources of information were Medline and Popline databases and discussions with community health experts. Barriers to success in tuberculosis control stem from biomedical, social and political factors. Lessons are relevant to the issues of limited awareness of tuberculosis and the benefits of treatment, stigma, restricted access to drugs, case-finding and motivation to continue treatment.

The experience of other programmes suggests potential for an expansion of both formal and informal community involvement in tuberculosis control. Informal community involvement includes delivery of messages to encourage tuberculosis suspects to come forward for treatment and established tuberculosis patients to continue treatment. A wide range of community members provide psychological and logistic support to patients to complete their treatment. Lessons from formal community involvement indicate that programmes should focus on ensuring that treatment is accessible. This activity could be combined with a variety of complementary activities: disseminating messages to increase awareness and promote adherence, tracing patients who interrupt treatment, recognising adverse effects, and case detection.

Programmes should generally take heed of existing political and cultural structures in planning community-based tuberculosis control programmes. Political support, the support of health professionals and the community are vital, and planning must involve or stem from the patients themselves.

Keywords: community involvement; developing countries; health programmes; tuberculosis

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Public Health Consultant, London, UK 2: Department for International Development, London, UK

Publication date: 2000-05-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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