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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 103-107

Turnaround times of the sputum sample courier system at tuberculosis treatment centers in Lusaka, Zambia, 2021

1 Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, Lusaka, Zambia
2 Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, Lusaka, Zambia
3 Department of Tuberculosis, Ministry of Health, Lusaka District Health Office, Lusaka, Zambia

Correspondence Address:
Samuel Daka
C/o. Japan Anti-tuberculosis Association, Zambia Plot No. 2 Njolwe Close, Woodlands, Lusaka, 10101
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_3_22

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Background: Health facilities which do not have capacity to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) depend on other facilities. This involves the courier of specimen such as sputum to diagnostic centers. This study was aimed at determining the turnaround time of sputum examinations for TB patients involving a courier system between the treatment and diagnostic centers. Methods: The study tracked the sputum samples between TB treatment and diagnostic centers. Sputum samples for both diagnosis and follow-up reasons were purposely and serially tracked from the time they were sent to the laboratory to the time results were received at the treatment centers. Results: Of the 65 sputum samples tracked at Chazanga, results were available for 49 (75.4%), 6 (9.2%) were unaccounted for, 4 (6.2%) were rejected by the laboratory, 4 (6.2%) had “error” results, and 2 (3.1%) were declared “missing” because it took more than a month to return the results. The turnaround time ranged from 2 days to 18 days with an average of 5.8 days (95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.5–7.1 days). At Kaunda Square, of the 49 samples tracked, results were available for 44 (89.8%), 2 (4.1%) were unaccounted for, 2 (4.1%) were rejected, and 1 (2.0%) was declared “missing.” The turnaround time ranged from 2 to 25 days with an average of 6.3 days (95% CI: 5.3–7.4 days). Conclusion: The turnaround times of sputum examinations of the two treatment centers were long. The courier system should be closely monitored to determine if it is performing well because the system is still necessary for facilities without laboratories.

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