Effect of decentralising childhood tuberculosis diagnosis to primary health centre versus district hospital levels on disease detection in children from six high tuberculosis incidence countries: an operational research, pre-post intervention study

TB-Speed Decentralisation study group

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Abstract

Background: Childhood tuberculosis (TB) remains underdiagnosed largely because of limited awareness and poor access to all or any of specimen collection, molecular testing, clinical evaluation, and chest radiography at low levels of care. Decentralising childhood TB diagnostics to district hospitals (DH) and primary health centres (PHC) could improve case detection. Methods: We conducted an operational research study using a pre-post intervention cross-sectional study design in 12 DHs and 47 PHCs of 12 districts across Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The intervention included 1) a comprehensive diagnosis package at patient-level with tuberculosis screening for all sick children and young adolescents <15 years, and clinical evaluation, Xpert Ultra-testing on respiratory and stool samples, and chest radiography for children with presumptive TB, and 2) two decentralisation approaches (PHC-focused or DH-focused) to which districts were randomly allocated at country level. We collected aggregated and individual data. We compared the proportion of tuberculosis detection in children and young adolescents <15 years pre-intervention (01 August 2018–30 November 2019) versus during intervention (07 March 2020–30 September 2021), overall and by decentralisation approach. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04038632. Findings: TB was diagnosed in 217/255,512 (0.08%) children and young adolescent <15 years attending care pre-intervention versus 411/179,581 (0.23%) during intervention, (OR: 3.59 [95% CI 1.99–6.46], p-value<0.0001; p-value = 0.055 after correcting for over-dispersion). In DH-focused districts, TB diagnosis was 80/122,570 (0.07%) versus 302/86,186 (0.35%) (OR: 4.07 [1.86–8.90]; p-value = 0.0005; p-value = 0.12 after correcting for over-dispersion); and 137/132,942 (0.10%) versus 109/93,395 (0.11%) in PHC-focused districts, respectively (OR: 2.92 [1.25–6.81; p-value = 0.013; p-value = 0.26 after correcting for over-dispersion). Interpretation: Decentralising and strengthening childhood TB diagnosis at lower levels of care increases tuberculosis case detection but the difference was not statistically significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102527
JournalEClinicalMedicine
Volume70
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Child
  • Decentralisation
  • Diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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