Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. We qualitatively evaluated the implementation of an Evidence-Based Multiple Focus Integrated Intensified TB Screening package (EXIT-TB) in the East African region, aimed at increasing TB case detection and number of patients receiving care. Objective: We present the accounts of participants from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia regarding the implementation of EXIT-TB, and suggestions for scaling up. Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used to gather insights from purposefully selected healthcare workers, community health workers, and other stakeholders. A total of 27, 13, 14, and 19 in-depth interviews were conducted in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia respectively. Data were transcribed and translated simultaneously and then thematically analysed. Results: The EXIT-TB project was described to contribute to increased TB case detection, improved detection of Multidrug-resistant TB patients, reduced delays and waiting time for diagnosis, raised the index of TB suspicion, and improved decision-making among HCWs. The attributes of TB case detection were: (i) free X-ray screening services; (ii) integrating TB case-finding activities in other clinics such as Reproductive and Child Health clinics (RCH), and diabetic clinics; (iii), engagement of CHWs, policymakers, and ministry level program managers; (iv) enhanced community awareness and linkage of clients; (v) cooperation between HCWs and CHWs, (vi) improved screening infrastructure, (vii) the adoption of the new simplified screening criteria and (viii) training of implementers. The supply-side challenges encountered ranged from disorganized care, limited space, the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate human resources, inadequate knowledge and expertise, stock out of supplies, delayed maintenance of equipment, to absence of X-ray and GeneXpert machines in some facilities. The demand side challenges ranged from delayed care seeking, inadequate awareness, negative beliefs, fears towards screening, to financial challenges. Suggestions for scaling up ranged from improving service delivery, access to diagnostic equipment and supplies, and infrastructure, to addressing client fears and stigma. Conclusion: The EXIT-TB package appears to have contributed towards increasing TB case detection and reducing delays in TB treatment in the study settings. Addressing the challenges identified is needed to maximize the impact of the EXIT-TB intervention.
- Case detection