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Background: Given the global urgency to improve tuberculosis (TB) case detection, a renewed interest in active case finding (ACF) has risen. Missed TB cases pose a serious threat as they continue to fuel TB transmission in the community. We aimed to assess the feasibility of community based ACF for TB among people living in a pastoralist community in Uganda and determine its impact on case detection and treatment uptake.
Methods: Between April and May 2019, four third year medical and nursing students placed at Moroto Regional Referral for community orientation worked together with community health workers to conduct a door-to-door survey for TB in pastoralist communities of Nadunget Sub County, Moroto district. The community health workers and the Medical/Nursing students performed symptom screening, collected sputum and facilitated specimen transport to the laboratory. Gene Xpert MTB/RIF assay was performed at the regional referral Hospital for all sputum samples. The community health workers were tasked to follow up on all those clients whose samples turned out to be positive so that they could start treatment as soon as possible. All presumptive cases with negative sputum results were referred to the TB clinic for further evaluation.
Results: In one month, we screened 385 individuals and identified 143 aged above 15 years with symptoms suggestive of TB. Among the presumptive cases, 132 (92%) reported a cough of more than two weeks and we were able to obtain sputum samples from 84(58.7%) participants. We diagnosed 11, including 8 bacteriologically confirmed TB cases using Gene Xpert and there was no multidrug resistant case identified. The median time from sputum collection to notification of the positive result was 3 days. All the positive cases were followed up and initiated on treatment.
Conclusion: The findings from our study suggest that in a pastoralist community, ACF for TB using a sensitive symptom screen followed by Gene Xpert contributed to improved case detection of TB, shortening the turnaround time hence timely initiation of patients on TB treatment.
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