Implementation of the DOTS strategy for tuberculosis control in rural Kiboga District, Uganda, offering patients the option of treatment supervision in the community, 1998-1999

F Adatu, R Odeke, M Mugenyi, G Gargioni, E McCray, E Schneider, D Maher
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 2003, 7 (9): S63-71

SETTING: Kiboga District, a rural district in central Uganda.

OBJECTIVE: As part of routine tuberculosis control programme operations, to measure the effectiveness and acceptability of community-based tuberculosis (TB) care using the directly observed treatment, short-course (DOTS) strategy for TB control. The implementation of the DOTS strategy with active participation of local communities in providing the option of treatment supervision in the community is known in Uganda as community-based DOTS (CB-DOTS).

DESIGN: Effectiveness was measured by comparing TB case-finding and treatment outcomes before and after the introduction of CB-DOTS in 1998. Acceptability was measured by administering a knowledge, attitudes and beliefs questionnaire to community members, health care workers and TB patients before and after the intervention.

RESULTS: A total of 540 TB patients were registered in the control period (1995-1997) before the introduction of CB-DOTS, and 450 were registered in the intervention period (1998-1999) after the implementation of CB-DOTS. Following the implementation of CB-DOTS, treatment success among new smear-positive pulmonary TB cases increased from 56% to 74% (RR 1.3, 95%CI 1.2-1.5, P < 0.001) and treatment interruption decreased from 23% to 1% (RR 16.5, 95%CI 6.1-44.7, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the proportion of deaths before and after the implementation of CB-DOTS (15% vs. 14% for new smear-positive pulmonary, and 38% vs. 29% for new smear-negative and extra-pulmonary TB cases). The acceptability of CB-DOTS was very high among those interviewed, mainly because CB-DOTS improved access to TB care, decreased costs and enabled patients to stay with their families.

CONCLUSIONS: In enabling patients to choose TB treatment supervision in the community, CB-DOTS provided a highly effective and acceptable additional option to conventional TB care. Efforts are underway to address the high case fatality rates in both study groups before and after the introduction of CB-DOTS. CB-DOTS is an example of shared responsibility between health services and communities in tackling a major public health priority.

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