Original Article | Volume 16 Number 1, 31 Jan 2021

The feasibility of a public-private mix program on pulmonary tuberculosis screening in Penang:A pilot study

Background: The low detection rate of tuberculosis (TB) cases in Malaysia remains a challenge in the effort to end TB by 2030. The collaboration between private and public health care facilities is essential in addressing this issue. As of now, no private-public health care collaborative program in
pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) screening exists in Malaysia.
Aim: To determine the feasibility of a collaborative program between private general practitioners (GPs) and the public primary health clinics in PTB screening and to assess the yield of smearpositive PTB from this program.
Methods: A prospective cohort study using convenient sampling was conducted involving GPs and public health clinics in the North-East District, Penang, from March 2018 to May 2019. In this study, GPs could direct all suspected PTB patients to perform a sputum acid fast bacilli (AFB)
direct smear in any of the dedicated public primary health clinics. The satisfaction level of both the GPs and their patients were assessed using a self-administered client satisfaction questionnaire. IBM SPSS Statistical Software was used to analyze the data.
Results: Out of a total of 31 patients who underwent the sputum investigation for PTB, one (3.2%) was diagnosed to have smear-positive PTB. Most of the patients (>90%) and GPs (66.7%) agreed to continue with this program in the future. Furthermore, most of the patients (>90%) were
satisfied with the program structure.
Conclusion: It is potentially feasible to involve GPs in combating TB. However, a more structured program addressing the identified issues is needed to make the collaborative program a success.