n South African Medical Journal - The other side of surveillance : monitoring, application, and integration of tuberculosis data to guide and evaluate programme activities in South Africa : research

Volume 106, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The importance of using surveillance data to monitor and evaluate programme activities has been emphasised in international policies for tuberculosis (TB) control.

A survey was conducted to assess the use of TB surveillance data to monitor and guide TB programme activities in South Africa (SA).
As part of an evaluation of the SA national TB surveillance system, semi-structured interviews were conducted among TB staff at health facilities and offices in three provinces. At each site, all persons involved with TB care, management and surveillance were invited to participate.
At least one person (range 1 - 4) was interviewed at 47/54 health facilities (87.0%), 11/13 subdistrict and district TB offices (84.6%), 2/3 provincial TB offices (66.7%), and at the national level (1/1, 100.0%). Of 119 TB staff, 64.7% recognised the purpose of TB surveillance as guiding programme planning, implementation and evaluation. However, only 16.0% reported using data to measure disease burden, 8.4% to monitor trends, and 9.2% to inform resource allocation. The majority reported using TB management tools provided by the national programme, but 44.5% also described using additional tools. Personnel mentioned the need for dedicated surveillance staff, training on recording and reporting, improved computer access, and methods to apply information from surveillance data to the programme.
The majority of TB staff understood the purpose of surveillance but did not routinely use data to guide programme planning, implementation and evaluation. Training and supporting TB staff to utilise surveillance data will help improve the TB surveillance system.

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