Objectives: To estimate the proportion of symptomatic patients with a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) cured by primary health care services in Mwanza Region, Tanzania, and to compare the cure rate achieved by health centres before and after the introduction of improved STI treatment services.
Methods: A model was used that describes the different hurdles patients with an STI take before they can be considered cured by the health services. The values for the input parameters for the model were taken from different studies. Data from an intervention trial as well as from a population-based study on male urethritis were used to estimate the proportion of symptomatic patients with an STI who seek care from a health centre. An observational study in four health centres where improved STI treatment services had been introduced provided estimates of the proportions of patients with an STI correctly diagnosed and treated. Patients who returned to the health centres after 1 week were interviewed about compliance. An estimate of the efficacy of treatments prescribed for STIs in health centres before the introduction of improved STI services was obtained from a study on prescription patterns for genital discharge syndrome (GDS) and genital ulcer disease (GUD).
Results: It was estimated that in the catchment area of health centres offering improved STI services, 51-72% of patients with STI symptoms sought care from those health centres. About 76-85% of cases were correctly diagnosed, and of these 69-80% received efficacious treatment. Compliance with full treatment was estimated at 84%. The estimated overall cure rate achieved by the health centres offering improved STI services ranged between 23 and 41%. The proportion of symptomatic STI patients who attended a health centre before improved STI services were introduced was estimated at 39%. The estimated efficacy of the treatments prescribed was 28%. The overall cure rate achieved by these health centres was less than 10%.
Conclusions: When assessing the performance of STI case detection and management all steps have to be taken into account that are taken by patients with an STI before they can be considered cured by the health services. The intervention to improve STI services in Mwanza Region has resulted in an improvement of the cure rate of STIs achieved by primary health care centres.