Setting: A total of 77 health care facilities in 10 provinces.
Objective: To perform a feasibility study before the extension of the Practical Approach to Lung (PAL) health strategy.
Method: A cross-sectional study comparing before and after findings of a training course for general practitioners.
Results: Respiratory symptoms were the main reason for attending the primary health care services, accounting for 31.6% and 31.1% in the two periods studied. Acute respiratory infections constituted 70% of all respiratory disorders identified during the two periods. Chronic respiratory disorders, particularly asthma, were diagnosed more frequently after the training course (15.9% vs. 10.9%). Tuberculosis (TB) suspects accounted for only a minority of patients seeking health care and were more easily identified post-training. Treatment recommendations were more rational after training, which led to a reduction in prescription costs.
Conclusions: The adoption of the PAL strategy by general practitioners led to an improvement in the quality of diagnosis of respiratory disorders and TB, fewer secondary investigations, less patient travel and an increase in the efficiency of medical practice by lowering prescription costs.