The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
LJP, APet, and LDM contributed to the development and design of the evaluation protocol. LJP, NB, CB, and LEB developed and piloted all data collection instruments and forms; created and finalized standard operating procedures and the SOP manual; and trained field staff. NB and CB led study field teams and were responsible for verifying and monitoring all data collected and monitoring data entry. LJP, CB, and LEB were responsible for data management and all statistical analyses. All authors provided assistance with interpretation of results. LJP, CB, and LEB were primarily responsible for the writing of the manuscript; NB, APet, APym, and LDM reviewed and made substantial edits and contributions to the final manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Accurate surveillance data are paramount to effective TB control. The Republic of South Africa’s National TB Control Program (NTP) has conducted TB surveillance since 1995 and adopted the Electronic TB Register (ETR) in 2005. This evaluation aimed to determine the completeness and reliability of data in the Republic of South Africa’s TB Surveillance System.
Three of nine provinces, three subdistricts per province, and 54 health facilities were selected by stratified random sampling. At each facility, 30 (or all if <30) patients diagnosed in Quarter 1 2009 were randomly selected for review. Patient information was evaluated across two paper and four electronic sources. Completeness of program indicators between paper and electronic sources was compared with chi-square tests. The kappa statistic was used to evaluate agreement of values.
Over one-third (33.7 %) of all persons with presumptive TB recorded as smear positive in the TB Suspect Register did not have any records documenting notification, treatment, or management for TB disease. Of 1339 persons with a record as a TB patient at the facility, 1077 (80 %) were recorded in all data sources. Over 98 % of records contained complete age and sex data. Completeness varied for HIV status (53-86 %; p < 0.001) and DOT during the intensive phase of treatment (17-54 %; p < 0.001). Agreement for sex was excellent across sources (kappa 0.94); moderate for patient type (0.78), treatment regimen (0.79), treatment outcome (0.71); and poor for HIV status (0.33).
The current evaluation revealed that one-third of persons diagnosed with TB disease may not have been notified of their disease or initiated on treatment (‘initial defaulters’). The ETR is not capturing all TB patients. Further, among patients with a TB record, completeness and reliability of information in the TB Surveillance System is inconsistent across data sources. Actions are urgently needed to ensure that all diagnosed patients are treated and managed and improve the integrity of surveillance information.