Article abstract

Introduction: while there are many studies assessing the pre-treatment loss to follow-up (LFU) among tuberculosis patients in public sector, there is no evidence from private-for-profit health sector and pre-diagnostic LFU from Zimbabwe. We aimed to assess the gaps in the cascade of care of presumptive TB patients registered during January-June 2017 in different types of health facilities in Hwange district, Zimbabwe.


Methods: this was a cohort study involving review of routine programme data. Pre-diagnostic LFU was defined as the proportion of presumptive TB patients not tested using sputum microscopy or Xpert MTB/RIF. A log binomial regression was done to assess factors associated with pre-diagnostic LFU.


Results: of 1279 presumptive TB patients, 955(75%) were tested for TB and 102(8%) were diagnosed as having TB. All TB patients were started on treatment. Pre-diagnostic LFU (overall 25%) was significantly higher among patients visiting private-for-profit health facilities (36%), local self-government run council health facilities (35%) and church-run mission health facilities (25%) compared to government health facilities (14%). Pre-diagnostic LFU was significantly higher among patients in rural areas (30%) compared to urban areas (18%). Type of health facility was associated with pre-diagnostic LFU after adjusting for HIV status and area of residence.


Conclusion: while pre-diagnostic LFU was high, there was no pre-treatment LFU. Pre-diagnostic LFU was especially high in private-for-profit and council health facilities and rural areas. National TB Programme should take immediate steps to improve access in rural areas and support the private-for-profit and council health facilities by improving sputum collection and transport.