Evaluation of the postal service for referral of specimen of drug resistance tuberculosis in Amhara region, Ethiopia; mixed method
Background: In Ethiopia, specimens of presumptive drug resistant tuberculosis cases are transported by courier system from district sample collection centers to reference laboratories. It is essential to track the effectiveness of the referral system and identify challenges in order to take timely and appropriate actions. We assessed turnaround time and quality of speci- mens, and explored challenges of the specimen referral system in Amhara region, Ethiopia, 2017.
Methods: With mixed methods, we retrospectively examined 385 randomly selected presumptive drug resistance TB speci- mens, and interviewed 53 purposively selected key informants from laboratories and post offices. We calculated median TAT and proportion of acceptable quality. We analyzed qualitative data thematically.
Results: Of the 385 specimens, 94.5% (364/385) had acceptable quality at arrival in the reference laboratories. All the 364 specimens had result. Three - fourth (76.1%) of results were dispatched to the referring health facilities within the recom- mended turnaround time. Ineffective communication and lack of feedback among institutions were mentioned as challenges.
Conclusion: The postal service was effective in keeping quality and majority of test results were timely delivered. Yet, there were operational challenges. Therefore, effective communication, using dedicated vehicle for specimen shipment and aware- ness creation on specimen collection and handling are recommended.
Keywords: Postal service; specimen referral; turnaround time; drug resistance tuberculosis.
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