Prevalence of tuberculosis in Rwanda: Results of the first nationwide survey in 2012 yielded important lessons for TB control

Apr 23, 2020; Plos One .


Background: Rwanda conducted a national tuberculosis (TB) prevalence survey to determine the magnitude of TB in the country and determine to what extent the national surveillance system captures all TB cases. In addition we measured the patient diagnostic rate, comparing the measured TB burden data with the routine surveillance data to gain insight into how well key population groups are being detected.

Methods: A national representative nationwide cross-sectional survey was conducted in 73 clusters in 2012 whereby all enrolled participants (residents aged 15 years and above) were systematically screened for TB by symptoms and chest X-ray (CXR). Those with either clinical symptoms (cough of any duration) and/or CXR abnormalities suggestive of TB disease were requested to provide two sputum samples (one spot and one morning) for smear examination and solid culture.

Results: Of the 45,058 eligible participants, 43,779 were enrolled in the survey. Participation rate was high at 95.7% with 99.8% of participants undergoing both screening procedures and 99.0% of those eligible for sputum examination submitting at least one sputum sample. Forty cases of prevalent mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and 16 mycobacteria other than tuberculosis (MOTT) cases were detected during the survey. Chest x-ray as screening tool had 3 and 5 times greater predictive odds for smear positive and bacteriological confirmed TB than symptom screening alone respectively. A TB prevalence of 74.1 (95% CI 48.3-99.3) per 100,000 adult population for smear positive TB and 119.3 (95% CI 78.8-159.9) per 100,000 adult population for bacteriological confirmed MTB was estimated for Rwanda.

Conclusions: The survey findings indicated a lower TB prevalence than previously estimated by WHO providing key lessons for national TB control, calling for more sensitive screening and diagnostic tools and a focus on key populations. Use of chest x-ray as screening tool was introduced to improve the diagnostic yield of TB.

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