Challenges in the provision of tuberculosis preventive therapy to children in Gauteng Province, South Africa

RT Philip, UD Feucht


Background. Tuberculosis preventive therapy (TPT) offered to children who come into contact with infectious adult pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) cases is an important childhood TB prevention strategy.

Objectives. To document paediatric TPT coverage as per South African national TB guidelines, to measure basic knowledge of TPT in adult TB patients and healthcare workers (HCWs), and to determine challenges in TPT delivery in eligible children.

Methods. We conducted a descriptive, cross-sectional study at primary healthcare clinics in South-West Tshwane, Gauteng Province, South Africa (SA). Structured interviews were conducted with adult TB patients to obtain socio-demographic data, TB and HIV history, data on child contacts and TPT knowledge. A separate questionnaire probed HCWs’ knowledge of TPT. Patient folders and the clinical process flow of adult TB cases and children on TPT were also assessed.

Results. We interviewed 100 adult TB patients and identified 28 child contacts who were eligible for TPT, including six children (21%, n=6/28) on TPT, all HIV-uninfected and <5 years of age. Instability in household configuration was the most common reason for eligible children not having been brought to health facilities for assessment (57%; n=4/7). Almost all adult TB patients were aware of their TB diagnosis (98%; n=98/100), but only half (48%; n=48/100) had knowledge of their TB type, and 55% (n=6/11) of the adult TB patients with drug-resistant TB were aware of the drug resistance. In addition, we interviewed 71 HCWs, and more than one-third of HCWs (37%; n=26/71) were fully knowledgeable about paediatric TPT eligibility criteria, with 63% (n=45/71) unaware that HIV-infected children of all ages qualified for TPT after exposure.

Conclusions. TPT provision in eligible child TB contacts in an urban district in SA was found to be suboptimal, especially for HIVinfected children. Instability in household configuration was an important reason for suboptimal TPT provision. Training of HCWs on paediatric TPT guidelines is required, together with knowledge sharing on TPT with the TB patients.

Authors' affiliations

RT Philip, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Pretoria and Kalafong Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa

UD Feucht, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Pretoria and Kalafong Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa; Tshwane District Clinical Specialist Team (DCST), Gauteng Department of Health, City of Tshwane, South Africa; Research Centre for Maternal, Fetal, Newborn & Child Health Care Strategies, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2022;16(1):13.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-02-14
Date published: 2022-02-14

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