TB programme stakeholder views on lessons from the COVID-19 response in South AfricaH. Myburgh, S-A. Meehan, D. T. Wademan, M. Osman, A. C. Hesseling, G. Hoddinott
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health Policy
BACKGROUND: The global COVID-19 pandemic has reversed many of the hard-won gains made in TB programmes and the associated reduction in the number of TB deaths, case notifications and incidence over the last three decades. Modelling estimates show that the impact will be lasting. There are global calls to recover the shortfalls along the TB care cascade that have resulted from COVID-19, with the recognition that the COVID-19 response holds lessons to inform more robust and comprehensive TB programmes and services.OBJECTIVE: To explore lessons from response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic in two high TB burden South African provinces.DESIGN: This was an exploratory qualitative study. We conducted interviews with TB programme stakeholders (managers and facility-level staff: n = 35) between February and June 2022.RESULTS: We identified eight facilitators of the COVID-19 response, including political will, rapid policy development, multi-sectoral collaboration, patient-centred models of care delivery, community engagement, mHealth and telehealth technologies, rigorous contact tracing and widespread mask wearing. Political will was singled out as a critical driver of the response.CONCLUSION: Leveraging COVID-19 inspired collaborations, technologies and avenues for health service delivery is an opportunity to maximise benefits for the TB programme. Reinvestment in national TB programmes and political prioritisation of TB are critical.