Implementing a large-scale systematic tuberculosis screening program in correctional facilities in South Africa

Vincent Zishiri, Salome Charalambous, Maunank R. Shah, Violet Chihota, Liesl Page-Shipp, Gavin J. Churchyard, Christopher J. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence is high in correctional facilities in southern Africa. With support from local South African nongovernmental organizations, the South African Department of Correctional Services initiated a program of systematically screening newly admitted and current inmates for symptoms followed by GeneXpert Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB)/rifampicin (Rif ) for microbiologic testing of symptomatic inmates. Methods. We conducted a program evaluation during a 5-month window describing program reach, effectiveness, adoption within the facilities, cost, and opportunities for sustainability. This evaluation included 4 facilities (2 large and 2 smaller) with a total daily census of 20 700 inmates. Results. During the 5-month evaluation window from May to September 2013, 7426 inmates were screened at the 4 facilities. This represents screening 87% of all new admits (the remaining new admits were screened by correctional staff only and are not included in these statistics) and 23% of the daily inmate census, reaching 55% of the overall screening target as calculated per annum. The reach ranged from 57% screened during these 5 months at one of the smaller facilities to 13% at the largest facility. Two hundred one cases of pulmonary TB were diagnosed, representing 2.1% of the screened population; 93% had documented initiation of TB treatment. The cost per TB case identified was $1513, excluding treatment costs (with treatment costs it was $1880). Conclusions. We reached a large number of inmates with high-volume screening and effectively used GeneXpert MTB/Rif to diagnose pulmonary TB and rapidly initiate treatment. The cost was comparable to other screening programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofu121
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Africa
  • Correctional facility
  • Implementation
  • Systematic screening
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology

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