SETTING: Pune District, Maharashtra State, India. OBJECTIVES: To examine delays experienced by patients in accessing directly observed treatment. DESIGN: Data were collected from 117 new sputum-positive patients using a semi-structured interview schedule. RESULTS: Patient delays as well as diagnostic and treatment delays, which reflect the performance of a National TB Programme, were minimal. Provider delays, however, contributed significantly to delayed entry into India's Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). Patients had to resort to multiple contacts with providers due to limitations of these providers in diagnosing or directing patients to the RNTCP. Patients who consulted a private provider participating in the public-private mix (PPM) were more likely to be suspected (OR 2.63, 90% CI 1.04-6.64) and referred (OR 6.8, 95%CI 2.08-22.21) to the RNTCP. Once the patients entered the RNTCP, the response of the system was rapid, with diagnosis offered and treatment initiated within on average 7 days. CONCLUSION: Interventions aimed at providers to encourage early suspicion and referral to the RNTCP, such as the PPM, are more important in improving patient access to TB care than those focusing on reducing patient delays.
International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (2008) 12 (1) 87-92