Diagnostic options for pulmonary fungal diseases in Africa
Background Fungal lung diseases are global in distribution and require specific tests for diagnosis. We report a survey of diagnostic service provision in Africa.
Methods A written questionnaire was followed by a video conference call with each respondent(s) and external validation. To disseminate the questionnaire, a snowball sample was used.
Results Data were successfully collected from 50 of 51 African countries with populations >1 million. The questionnaire was completed by respondents affiliated with 72 health facilities. Of these 72 respondents, 33 (45.8%) reported data for the whole country while others reported data for a specific region/province within their country. In the public sector, chest X-ray and computed tomography are performed often in 49 countries (98%) and occasionally in 37 countries (74%), and less often in the private sector. Bronchoscopy and spirometry were done often in 28 countries (56%) and occasionally in 18 countries (36%) in the tertiary health facilities of public sector. The most conducted laboratory diagnostic assay was fungal culture (often or occasionally) in 29 countries (58%). In collaboration with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, regional webinars and individual country profiles provided further data validation.
Conclusion This survey has found a huge disparity of diagnostic test capability across the African continent. Some good examples of good diagnostic provision and very high-quality care were seen, but this was unusual. The unavailability of essential testing such as spirometry was noted, which has a high impact in the diagnosis of lung diseases. It is important for countries to implement tests based on the World Health Organization Essential Diagnostics List.
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