Setting: Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Blantyre, Malawi.
Objective: To determine the pattern of tuberculosis (TB) cases over a period of ten years.
Design: TB registers for QECH for the years 1986-1995 (January 1st to December 31st) were obtained and clinical information on the type of TB in each patient was recorded. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test results of adults with smear-positive pulmonary TB (PTB) and children with TB between 1993 and 1996 were recorded from case notes.
Results: There were 19,377 TB cases, 10,982 men and 8,395 women, registered over the ten-year period. Of these, 4,691 (24%) cases were in children aged 0-14 years and 11,890 (61%) cases were in adults aged 15-44 years. The number of cases increased from 657 in 1986 to 2,734 in 1995, and the proportion of cases with extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB) rose from 11% in 1986 to 33% in 1995. The largest increase in cases was in children and in young adults aged 15-44 years. In all age groups, PTB was more common than EPTB. There were significant increases in the proportion of adult TB cases with pleural effusion. Of those who were tested, 72% of adults with smear-positive PTB and 64% of children with TB were found to be HIV-seropositive.
Conclusion: There has been a dramatic increase in cases of TB and changes in disease pattern in QECH during the last 10 years, which is related to the HIV epidemic.