Problem: Despite implementation of universal health coverage in Thailand, gaps remain in the system for screening contacts of tuberculosis patients.
Approach: We designed broader criteria for contact investigation and new screening practices and assessed the approach in a programme-based operational research study in 2017-2018. Clinic staff interviewed 100 index patients and asked them to give household and non-household contacts an invitation for a free screening and chest X-ray. Contact persons who attended received 250 Thai baht (about 8 United States dollars) allowance for transport.
Local setting: Chiang Rai province, Thailand, has high rates of tuberculosis notification and a high number of people living in poverty. The coverage of contact investigation in under 5-year-olds was only 33.2% (222 screened out of 668 contacts) over 2011-2015.
Relevant changes: Index patients identified 440 contacts in total and gave invitation cards to 227 of them. The contact investigation coverage was 81.1% (184/227) and tuberculosis detection among contacts screened was 6.0% (11/184). Of the 11 contacts with active tuberculosis, three did not have tuberculosis symptoms, three were non-household contacts and three were contacts of non-smear-positive tuberculosis patients. The contact investigation coverage of the contacts younger than 5 years was 100% (14/14) and the yield of tuberculosis detection in this age group was 21.4% (3/14).
Lessons learnt: High coverage of contact investigation with a high yield of tuberculosis detection among contacts can be achieved by applying broader criteria for contact investigation and providing financial support for transportation.
Imsanguan, W., Bupachat, S., Wanchaithanawong, V., Luangjina, S., Thawtheong, S., Nedsuwan, S., … & Ngamvithayapong-Yanai, J. (2020). Contact tracing for tuberculosis, Thailand. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 98(3), 212.