TB or not TB? That is the question regarding TB treatment in a remote provincial hospital in Solomon Islands

Peter Jones, Amelia Denniss, Deloshan Subhaharan, Brigid Doolan, Tanvi Karnik, James Fink, Grace Rara

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Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge in Solomon Islands. Limited healthcare resources, geography, and sociocultural beliefs, coupled with lack of laboratory diagnostic tools, leads to diagnostic and treatment outcome uncertainty.

Methods: Kirakira Hospital (KKH) is the main provincial hospital of Makira-Ulawa Province in Solomon Islands. A retrospective clinical audit of hospitalised TB patients in KKH over a 2-year period between July 2015 and July 2017 was conducted. The cost of TB treatment was estimated by calculating the total number of inpatient bed days of treatment.

Results: Data were available for 42 of 78 listed TB patients including 23 males and 19 females, and 9 children aged less than 16 years. The average age was 35 years (range 9 months-74 years). Thirty-five of these received a chest X-ray. All patients had at least one of the following: fever, night sweats, chronic cough and haemoptysis as part of their clinical TB presentation. Thirty-six completed the full 8-week duration of intensive HRZE treatment as inpatients of KKH. The audit shows the treatment of TB consumes 15% of the current healthcare budget of Makira-Ulawa Province.

Conclusion: TB remains a common clinical diagnosis in KKH. TB consumes 15% of the current healthcare budget of Makira-Ulawa Province. The limited capacity and data about the management of TB in Makira province mean that it is not currently possible to measure if there has been any progress towards eradicating TB in Solomon Islands. Laboratory investigations for TB available in Makira including sputum analysis and the GeneXpert are required to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and identify multidrug resistant strains of TB. This needs to be coupled with robust monitoring and data collection of both inpatients and outpatients to ensure the current treatment protocols for TB are being followed in Makira-Ulawa Province. These steps are essential if TB is to be eradicated from the provinces of Solomon Islands by 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4918
Number of pages8
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2019

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