Challenges to delivery of isoniazid preventive therapy in a cohort of children exposed to tuberculosis in Timor-Leste

Charlotte Hall, P Sukijthamapan, R dos Santos, C Nourse, D Murphy, M Gibbons, J R Francis
Tropical Medicine & International Health: TM & IH 2015, 20 (6): 730-6

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the number and geographic location of children aged <5 years exposed to sputum smear-positive tuberculosis (TB) in Timor-Leste, to determine the proportion evaluated for isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) and to review the programmatic challenges present in delivering IPT to this cohort.

METHODS: A total of 256 consecutive sputum smear-positive TB index cases diagnosed at Bairo Pite Clinic between August 2013 and July 2014 were interviewed about places of residence and household contacts <5 years of age in the 3 months preceding diagnosis. Attendance of these contacts for screening and the outcome of screening were recorded prospectively.

RESULTS: The majority (225 of 256, 88%) of index cases resided in Dili, but 73 of 225 (32%) of these also had a second address outside the capital. A total of 255 contacts were identified; 172 of 255 (67%) of whom lived in Dili district and 83 of 255 (33%) of whom resided in remote districts. Only 66 of 255 (26%) contacts attended for evaluation for IPT, of whom 46 of 255 (18%) started IPT and nine of 255 (3.5%) were diagnosed with TB. Attendance was significantly less likely when the index case was not the parent of the child contact.

CONCLUSIONS: Sputum smear-positive pulmonary TB cases frequently result in household exposure of children <5 years in Timor-Leste, and provision of IPT is suboptimal. Contacts are located in diverse and distant locations. Further studies to delineate access barriers to IPT and review programmatic models that will facilitate IPT scale up in Timor-Leste are needed.

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