TC TB in action – 40 TB cases diagnosed in Bolikhamxay
In its second implementation year, the TC TB project in Pakkading and Bolikhan Districts continues to screen for presumptive TB cases and to support TB-affected families with treatment adherence and improved nutrition. Since the start of the project in July 2018, 40 TB cases have been detected. 19,563 people were screened for TB symptoms and 741 presumptive cases were identified. The latter can give their sputum samples at village level instead of having to travel to sometimes far-away Health Centres – medical staff, in conjunction with HPP Laos field staff collect sputum samples at presumptive cases’ doorsteps and transport them to laboratories for diagnosis.
The team are continuously monitoring their progress and learnings and have implemented improvements over the past months. For instance, instead of time-consuming door-to-door screenings, the Field Officers have intensified contact investigation in order to look for potential TB cases more strategically. With this approach, Field Officers visit households in which someone has been a TB patient within the past two years. They screen all household members and trace their social networks as well as other regular contacts such as colleagues or fellow students to verify whether they might show TB symptoms.
Another way of increasing the efficiency of finding TB cases is to strengthen GeneXpert diagnosis. District laboratories use sputum smear microscopy which, as a diagnostic method, has a high failure rate. In Bolikhamxay Province, GeneXpert is only available in Pakxan Hospital and sputum sample transport from village to province level – via Health Centres and district laboratories – is challenging. HPP Laos is working with local health authorities to improve sample logistics and to increase the share of samples tested by GeneXpert.