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Free Content Referring TB suspects from private pharmacies to the National Tuberculosis Programme: experiences from two districts in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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SETTING: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

OBJECTIVE: To describe pharmacists' attitudes towards referring TB suspects to the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) and to evaluate the feasibility of a new referral system.

METHODS: 1) Questionnaire survey of 150 private pharmacies; 2) qualitative interviews with 16 pharmacists; 3) monitoring the use of new referral forms for 21 months.

RESULTS: Use of a simple referral form was thought to be manageable by 72% of the pharmacists. Pharmacists identified a number of different types of risks associated with referral of TB suspects to the NTP; clients could turn to another pharmacy (61% of respondents); criticise the pharmacist if it appears that they do not have TB (42%); or remain untreated because they are not able to visit the NTP (41%). Fifty-eight (39%) of eligible pharmacies referred at least one client. At least 373 suspects were referred, 149 were tested and 10 had TB.

CONCLUSIONS: It is feasible to let pharmacies refer TB suspects. For there to be a significant impact on case detection, it is important to acknowledge a number of concerns expressed by pharmacists and attempt to change both clients' and providers' expectations with regard to the pharmacists' role.

Keywords: case detection; pharmacies; public-private mix; referral system; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Medicine, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden; and Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden 2: Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden 3: Pham Ngoc Thach TB and Lung Disease Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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  • 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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