Mobile health technology to improve tuberculosis contact tracing in subSaharan Africa: A systematic review, 2010 to 2021

Nhleko, Peggy Ntombezinhle
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Tuberculosis is a major health concern in sub-Saharan Africa, with these countries having among the highest burden globally. One of the challenges with TB is the active cases that are undiagnosed and untreated which result in continuous spread of the disease. Contact tracing is crucial to control or eliminate the spread of TB. Currently, there is growing utilization of mobile devices in the health care sector and has resulted in the increased use of mobile technologies for health interventions described as “mobile health”. Based on previous studies, there is an increase recognition that mobile health technologies may improve public health programs irrespective of the disease or setting. In this study, we conducted a systematic review guided by Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines. The goal of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of mHealth interventions for improving TB contact tracing, describe the use of mHealth within TB contact tracing using literature from previous studies, and to summarize lessons learned regarding the use of the mHealth approach in TB contact tracing.The review considered papers that included mHealth for TB contact tracing in sub-Saharan Africa. We thoroughly searched the following databases from 2010 to October 2021: PubMed, Google Scholar, MedLine and other sources for relevant articles. Only nine published publications out of 5101 gave data on the use of mHealth for TB contact tracing in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2010. Six investigations were undertaken in Uganda, two in South Africa, and one in Botswana,. The study reveals that research on the availability and use of mHealth for TB contact tracing in sub-Saharan Africa is sparse. Of studies found, the review revealed that the implementation of mHealth applications were feasible and acceptable to health care providers and patients in sub-Saharan Africa. SMS text message was highly acceptable and more convenient. mHealth approaches eliminated the need of paper x forms and improved the quality of data collected. However, digital fingerprinting recorded high rates of failure due to hardware and software complications. As a result, we recommend primary studies concentrating on the use of mHealth for TB contact tracing in sub-Saharan Africa.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Epidemiology to the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022