Original Research

Implementing active surveillance for TB: A descriptive survey of healthcare workers in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Febisola I. Ajudua, Robert J. Mash
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 16, No 1 | a4217 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v16i1.4217 | © 2024 Febisola I. Ajudua, Robert J. Mash | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 July 2023 | Published: 23 February 2024

About the author(s)

Febisola I. Ajudua, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; and Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Gqeberha, South Africa; and Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa
Robert J. Mash, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: South Africa is a tuberculosis (TB) high-burden country. In the Eastern Cape (EC), community health worker (CHW) teams implement active surveillance for TB to curb spread in disadvantaged communities. However, achieving the goals of the End-TB strategy require coordinated efforts that implement policy and strengthen health systems.

Aim: This survey described views of healthcare workers (HCWs) in primary care facilities on factors that influence implementation of active surveillance for TB.

Setting: This survey was conducted across two districts, among healthcare workers working in TB rooms at primary health facilities.

Method: A cross-sectional survey of HCW in the EC.

Results: The survey included 37 clinics in the OR Tambo Health District (ORTHD) and 44 clinics in the Nelson Mandela Bay Health District (NMBHD). Routine screening at primary care facilities (88.2%) and contact tracing initiatives (80.8%) were the common modes of TB screening. Tuberculosis screening services in the community were only provided by CHWs in 67.3% of instances. Although CHWs were adequately trained and motivated; the lack of transport, limited availability of outreach team leaders (OTLs) and poor security limited implementation of TB screening services in the community. Comparison between both districts revealed TB screening was limited by lack of transport in the rural district and poor security in the urban context. Community engagement provided a platform for improving acceptability.

Conclusion: Community-based TB screening was limited. Inadequate coordination of services between stakeholders in the community has limited reach. Further research should describe that coordinating resource allocation and community empowerment could improve the implementation of active surveillance for TB.

Contribution: This study highlights the views of TB room HCWs who believe the opportunity for community-level TB screening is improved with effective leadership and community engagement for acceptability of these services.


community-orientated primary care; primary health care; tuberculosis; disease surveillance; community health worker

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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