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Open Access A hospital-based tuberculosis focal point to improve tuberculosis care provision in a very high burden setting

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SETTING: A hospital-based tuberculosis focal point (TBFP) at a tertiary hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the possible tasks and impact of a hospital-based TBFP as well as staffing and infrastructure requirements for setting up a hospital-based TBFP.

ACTIVITIES: A TBFP can centralize the notification and referral of new TB cases, perform human immunodeficiency virus counseling and testing, assessment of difficult to diagnose TB suspects and management of complicated TB cases, and it can provide an ideal setting for research and health care worker training.

RESULTS: The number of TB suspects assessed by sputum initially increased, followed by a decrease starting in 2010, which correlates with the globally decreasing TB incidence. The proportion of TB cases who failed to link to TB care decreased from 23% to 14% between 2009 and 2012. Almost 40% of cases with hepatotoxicity required an adjusted treatment regimen. Roll-out of Xpert® MTB/RIF testing and decentralized drug-resistant TB treatment increased the number of rifampicin monoresistant and sputum smear-negative multidrug-resistant TB cases treated on an out-patient basis.

CONCLUSION: A hospital-based TBFP complements care at primary care level by coordinating TB care for a vulnerable population of patients diagnosed in a hospital setting, and by coordinating the diagnosis and treatment of complex TB cases.
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Keywords: HIV; diagnosis; linkage to care; treatment; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinical HIV Research Unit, Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 2: Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA 3: Helen Joseph Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication date: 2013-03-21

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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