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Improving pediatric TB diagnosis in North Kivu (DR Congo), focusing on a clinical algorithm including targeted Xpert MTB/RIF on gastric aspirates

  • Van Brusselen, Daan1, 2, 3, 4
  • Simons, Erica1, 2
  • Luendo, Tony5
  • Habarugira, Delphine5
  • Ngowa, Jimmy5
  • Mitutso, Nadine Neema2
  • Moluh, Zakari1, 2
  • Steenssens, Mieke1, 2
  • Seguin, Rachelle1, 2
  • Vochten, Hilde1, 2
  • Ngabo, Lucien5
  • Isaakidis, Petros6
  • Ferlazzo, Gabriella6
  • 1 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Operational Center Brussels, Rue de l’Arbre-Bénit 46, Brussels, 1050, Belgium , Brussels (Belgium)
  • 2 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Mission RDC, 11 Avenue Massamba, Quartier Bassoko, Ngaliema, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo , Kinshasa (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 3 GZA Hospitals, Oosterveldlaan, Antwerp, 22, Belgium , Antwerp (Belgium)
  • 4 Ghent University, Corneel Heymanslaan 10, entrance 42 (building K3), 4th floor, Ghent, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
  • 5 Hôpital Régional de Référence de Masisi, Zone de Santé de Masisi, Nord-Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo , Nord-Kivu (Congo - Kinshasa)
  • 6 Médecins Sans Frontières, Southern African Medical Unit (SAMU), Médecins Sans Frontières, Zurich House, 7th Floor, 70 Fox Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg, South Africa , Johannesburg (South Africa)
Published Article
Conflict and Health
BioMed Central
Publication Date
May 14, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13031-020-00281-1
Springer Nature


BackgroundThe incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is 323/100,000. A context of civil conflict, internally displaced people and mining activities suggests a higher regional TB incidence in North Kivu. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supports the General Reference Hospital of Masisi, North Kivu, covering a population of 520,000, with an elevated rate of pediatric malnutrition. In July 2017, an adapted MSF pediatric TB diagnostic algorithm, including Xpert MTB/RIF on gastric aspirates (GAs), was implemented. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the introduction of this clinical pediatric TB diagnostic algorithm influenced the number of children started on TB treatment.MethodsWe performed a retrospective analysis of pediatric TB cases started on treatment in the inpatient therapeutic feeding centre (ITFC) and the pediatric ward. We compared data collected in the second half (July to December) of 2016 (before introduction of the new diagnostic algorithm) and the second half of 2017. For the outcome variables the difference between the two years was calculated by a Pearson Chi-square test.ResultsIn 2017, 94 GAs were performed, compared to none in 2016. Twelve percent (11/94) of samples were Xpert MTB/RIF positive. Sixty-eight children (2.9% of total exits) aged between 3 months and 15 years started TB treatment in 2017, compared to 19 (1.4% of total exits) in 2016 (p 0.002). The largest increase in pediatric TB diagnoses in 2017 occurred in patients with a negative Xpert MTB/RIF result, but clinically highly suggestive of TB according to the newly introduced diagnostic algorithm. Fifty-two (3.1%) children under five years old started treatment in 2017, as compared to 14 (1.3%) in 2016 (p 0.004). The increase was less pronounced and not statistically significant in older patients: sixteen children (2.6%) above 5 years old started TB treatment in 2017 as compared to five (1.3%) in 2016 (p 0.17).ConclusionAfter the introduction of an adapted clinical pediatric TB diagnostic algorithm, including Xpert MTB/RIF on gastric aspirates, we observed a significant increase in the number of children – especially under 5 years old – started on TB treatment, mostly on clinical grounds. Increased ‘clinician awareness’ of pediatric TB likely played an important role.

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