Background: Despite the efforts of the National Tuberculosis Programme, TB cure rates in Brazil are sub-optimal. The End TB Strategy for post-2015 identifies conditional cash transfer interventions as powerful tools to improve TB control indicators, including TB cure rate. This study aims to inform the new policy by evaluating the role of the Bolsa Familia Programme (BFP), one of the largest conditional cash transfer programmes in the world, on TB cure rates in Brazil.
Methods: We undertook a retrospective cohort study, based on an unprecedented record linkage of socioeconomic and health data, to compare cases of patients newly diagnosed with TB in 2010 receiving BFP cash benefits (n=5788) with those who did not (n=1467) during TB treatment. We used Poisson regression with robust variance to estimate the relative risks for TB cure adjusted for known confounders.
Results: The cure rate among patients exposed to BFP during TB treatment was 82.1% (4752/5788), 5.2% higher than among those not exposed. This was confirmed after controlling for TB type, diabetes mellitus, HIV status and other relevant clinical and socioeconomic covariates (RR=1.07, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.11 for cure rates among BFP beneficiaries). This association seemed higher for patients not under directly observed treatment (RR=1.11; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.16).
Conclusions: Although further research is needed, this study suggests that conditional cash transfer programmes can contribute to improve TB cure rate in Brazil.
Keywords: Adherence; Conditional cash transfer; Social protection; Tuberculosis.
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