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Free Content Active contact investigation and treatment support: an integrated approach in rural and urban Sindh, Pakistan

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BACKGROUND: Although household contacts of persons with tuberculosis (TB) have high rates of active TB, contact investigations are often not conducted. We present the results from a large-scale active contact investigation combined with treatment support in Sindh, Pakistan.

METHODS: Trained lay workers visited consenting smear-positive index patient homes in seven urban and 15 rural facilities. People with suspected TB were provided free transport to diagnostic centres, and sputum samples were collected for microscopy. Those diagnosed with smear-positive TB were given food baskets and sent text reminders to promote adherence.

RESULTS: From 3037 index cases, 19 191 household contacts were screened for TB symptoms and 3478 (18.1%) symptomatic persons were identified. Of these, 2160 (62.1%) produced sputum samples on the spot for testing and 490 (22.7%) had smear-positive results. TB prevalence in urban households was 1504 per 100 000 population compared to 4044/100 000 in rural households (P < 0.001) and 2553/100 000 overall. Treatment success was high, with 80.4% cured and 17.6% completing treatment.

DISCUSSION: Lay workers given basic training can conduct active contact investigations and provide treatment support to improve case detection and treatment outcomes in urban and rural areas of Pakistan. In areas with high levels of undiagnosed TB, particularly in rural areas, contact investigation should be prioritised as a means of improving case detection and early diagnosis.
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Keywords: active case finding; contact investigation; incentives; treatment support

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Bridge Consultants Foundation, Karachi, Pakistan 2: Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan 3: Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan; Stop TB Partnership, Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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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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