Tuberculosis Medicine Consumption Trends in the Private Health Sector in South Africa

Nkosinathi Emmanuel Mthethwa, Andy Gray


South Africa is ranked fourth amongst 22 countries reporting 80% of TB cases world wide, yet TB trends are not known in the private sector. Unless public private TB research is made a priority, there is potential for the situation to worsen.  A gap in TB management still exists between public and private sectors.  TB is primarily the government responsibility, but public sector lacks the sufficient resources required for successful TB control and management. Private sector has resources, on the other hand, but lacks proper operational network processes and policies for TB management. Hence, private sector is good in diagnosis and short-term TB treatment, but the long-term disease management for six months (or more) and adherence to treatment is a challenge. 


The country performance in TB control and management is known through TB indicators in the public sector. It is vitally important to gain a clear equivalent picture of the disease trends in the private sector.  It is unlikely that if the public sector annual TB case incidences increase (a main pool), then annual TB incidence in private sector (small overflow pool) would decrease. For this reason, it is important to study the private sector response to the disease trends in the public healthcare sector.


Evidence from other developing countries shows that private sector contributes meaningful significance to supplement TB control / management in relation to disease trends. It becomes possible and relatively easier to identify gaps and bridge them through public-private partnership principles.  Hence the purpose of the research, herein proposed, is to utilize the consumption quantities of anti-TB medicines in the private sector in order to identify and describe the disease trends. Therefore, this research is the first of its kind in South Africa. It is an observational descriptive study and results will reveal opportunities for TB co- management between public and private sectors.