• Countries are out of step with international recommendations for tuberculosis testing, treatment, and care: Findings from a 29-country survey of policy adoption and implementation

      Saran, K; Masini, T; Chikwanha, I; Paton, G; Scourse, R; Kahn, P; Sahu, S; Perrin, C; Ditiu, L; Lynch, S (bioRxiv, 2019-02-01)
      Background: Tuberculosis (TB) poses a global health crisis requiring robust international and country-level action. Adopting and implementing TB policies from the World Health Organization (WHO) is essential to meeting global targets for reducing TB burden. However, many high TB burden countries lag in implementing WHO recommendations. Assessing the progress of implementation at national level can identify key gaps that must be addressed to expand and improve TB care. Methods: In 2016/2017, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Stop TB Partnership conducted a survey on adoption and implementation of 47 WHO TB policies in the national TB programs of 29 countries. Here we analyze a subset of 23 key policies in diagnosis, models of care, treatment, prevention, and drug regulation to provide a snapshot of national TB policy adoption and implementation. We examine progress since an analogous 2015 survey of 23 of the same countries. Results: At the time of the survey, many countries had not yet aligned their national guidelines with all WHO recommendations, although some progress was seen since 2015. For diagnosis, about half of surveyed countries had adopted the WHO-recommended initial rapid test (Xpert MTB/RIF). A majority of countries had adopted decentralized models of care, although one-third of them still required hospitalization for drug-resistant (DR-)TB. Recommended use of the newer drugs bedaquiline (registered in only 6 high-burden TB countries) and delamanid (not registered in any high-burden country) was adopted by 23 and 18 countries, respectively, but short-course (9-month) and newer pediatric regimens by only 13 and 14 countries, respectively. Guidelines in all countries included preventive treatment of latent TB infection for child TB contacts and people living with HIV/AIDS, but only four extended this to adult contacts. Conclusion: To reach global TB targets, greater political will is needed to rapidly adopt and implement internationally recognized care guidelines.