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Open Access Research article

The perspective of private practitioners regarding tuberculosis case detection and treatment delay in Amhara Region, Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study

Solomon A Yimer123*, Carol-Holm Hansen1 and Gunnar A Bjune2

Author Affiliations

1 Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Postbox 4404, Nydalen 0403, Oslo, Norway

2 Institute of Health and Society, Section for International Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway

3 Amhara Regional State Health Bureau, P.O.Box 495, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:285  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-285

Published: 11 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Engaging all health care providers in tuberculosis (TB) control has been incorporated as an essential component of World Health Organization's Stop TB Strategy and the Stop TB Partnership's global plan 2006-2015. Ethiopia has a growing private health sector. The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of private practitioners (PPs) in TB case detection and assess their perspectives on TB treatment delay in Amhara Region, Ethiopia.

Results

A cross-sectional study among 112 PPs selected from private health facilities (PHF) in the region was conducted. The study was carried out between May and August 2008 and data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Group differences were analyzed using one-way Anova test and a p-value of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

In this study, PPs saw a median of 12 TB suspects and 1.5 patients a week. The mean number of TB suspects and patients seen varied significantly among the different professions with p < 0.009 and p < 0.004, respectively. Pulmonary TB patients referred by PPs were delayed up to one week before starting treatment at government health facilities. A 22% increase in the detection of smear-positive TB cases may be achieved by involving all PHFs in the TB control program in the region. Nineteen percent of the PPs indicated that TB patients' prior attendance to non medical health providers resulted in complication of disease and increased treatment delay for TB.

Conclusion

PPs manage a substantial number of TB suspects and patients in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. The GHF delay observed among TB patients referred by PPs to GHF is unnecessary. Expanding PPM-DOTS in the region and improving the quality of TB care at both government and private health facilities reduces treatment delay and increases TB case detection.

Keywords:
tuberculosis; private practitioners; treatment delay; Ethiopia