(HealthDay News) — The implementation of a tuberculosis control program in China was associated with a reduction in prevalence and increased treatment, according to a study published online March 18 in The Lancet.

Lixia Wang, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, and colleagues assessed the effect of a tuberculosis control program (based on the directly observed treatment, short course [DOTS] strategy). Data were compared from three national tuberculosis prevalence surveys conducted in 1990, 2000, and 2010. The 2010 survey included 252,940 eligible individuals (aged ≥15 years) chosen by stratified random sampling.

The researchers found that the prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis decreased from 170 to 59 cases per 100,000 population from 1990–2010. Smear-positive prevalence decreased only in provinces with the DOTS program during the 1990s; prevalence decreased in all provinces after 2000. Of the total reduction in smear-positive prevalence, 70% occurred after 2000. The proportion of known cases treated by the public health system (using the DOTS strategy) increased from 15% in 2000 to 66% in 2010, contributing to a significant decrease in the proportion of treatment default and retreatment cases.

“Marked improvement in tuberculosis treatment, driven by a major shift in treatment from hospitals to the public health centers (that implemented the DOTS strategy) was largely responsible for this epidemiological effect,” the authors write.

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