Insufficient tuberculosis (TB) case finding constitutes a major barrier to effective TB control. Despite considerable progress in improving healthcare service availability and accessibility, many people worldwide who fall ill with TB have no access to quality care, particularly in countries with a high disease burden. Increasing efforts to close this enormous gap will be crucial in the forthcoming years to effectively reduce TB incidence and mortality worldwide. This article describes opportunities, current challenges and open questions towards intensifying TB case finding.
A considerable share of South Africa’s tuberculosis burden affects those people who have previously been treated for tuberculosis – many of them successfully. In a retrospective cohort study that was conducted using tuberculosis treatment register data from two communities in suburban Cape Town, it was found that the hazard rate of re-treatment for smear-positive tuberculosis was between 3- and 5.26-times higher in tuberculosis cases who had defaulted from treatment compared to successfully treated cases. But although the rate of re-treatment was substantially higher among defaulters, cases after treatment success account for the vast majority of smear-positive re-treatment cases due to the fact that far more tuberculosis cases were successfully treated than had defaulted.