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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gender disparity in tuberculosis cases in eastern and western provinces of Pakistan

Omara F Dogar1*, Sarwat K Shah2, Abrar A Chughtai3 and Ejaz Qadeer3

Author Affiliations

1 Research and Development Unit, Social and Health Inequalities Network, House 862, Street 13-C, E-11/4, NPF, Islamabad, Pakistan

2 Research and Development Department, Health Services Academy, National Institute of Health, Chak Shehzad, Islamabad, Pakistan

3 National Tuberculosis Control Program, Zakia Aziz Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad, Pakistan

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:244  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-244

Published: 5 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Although globally, the number of notified TB cases is higher for males, a few countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (Afghanistan; Lebanon; Iran and Pakistan) of the World Health Organization have a relatively higher number of female cases. Pakistan ranks fifth amongst the highest TB burden countries and poses a rich ground for exploratory research to address the gender differences in TB cases. It is uniquely neighboured by India on the East, having higher number of cases in males than in females, and by Afghanistan and Iran on the West, having higher number of cases in females than in males. The objective is to see whether these gender differences are evenly distributed across the country or vary by geographies, to enable effective targeting of TB control strategies.

Methods

Cross-sectional analysis was carried out on secondary data, obtained from National Tuberculosis Program. Disaggregated at the provincial level, the sex-specific case notification rates (CNR) were calculated and trends over a 10-year span (2001–2010) were examined. Sex-specific differences for the four Pakistani provinces were analyzed using chi-square test and odds ratios with corresponding confidence intervals. Cumulative countrywide sex-specific notification rates were used as the reference group.

Results

The trends for 2001–2010 in the western provinces of Pakistan show higher female CNR as compared to those seen in the eastern provinces having slightly higher male CNR. The proportions of female notified TB cases are approximately twice as high in the western provinces when compared to the eastern provinces and Pakistan over all.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that females are particularly affected by TB disease burden in the west parts of Pakistan. This gender disparity requires a coordinated regional and international effort to further explore triggers and moderators of increased acquisition and progression of TB disease among females in the region to guarantee effective TB control.

Keywords:
Case notification rate; Male-to-female ratio; New sputum-smear positive; Sex-specific