DHS surveys can include questions on
TB knowledge and symptoms and
SPA surveys can assess  TB treatment and diagnosis services. (Photo credit: © 2008 Anil Gulati, Courtesy of Photoshare) 

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.

But people infected with TB bacilli will not necessarily become sick with the disease. The immune system "walls off" the TB bacilli which, protected by a thick waxy coat, can lie dormant for years. When someone's immune system is weakened, the chances of becoming sick are greater.

  • Overall, one-third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus.
  • 5-10% of people who are infected with TB bacilli (but who are not infected with HIV) become sick or infectious at some time during their life.
  • People with HIV and TB infection are much more likely to develop TB.
  • TB is the leading killer of people who are HIV infected.

If properly treated, tuberculosis caused by drug-susceptible strains is curable in virtually all cases. If untreated, more than half the cases may be fatal within five years.

What data does DHS collect about TB?

The DHS collects data on women's and men's knowledge and attitudes concerning TB. Over 90 surveys have included TB questions.

What are the DHS indicators related to TB knowledge and attitudes?

  • Percentage who have heard of TB
  • Percentage who report that TB is spread through the air by coughing
  • Percentage who believe that TB can be cured
  • Percentage who would want a family member's TB kept secret

What data does SPA collect about TB?

The Service Provision Assessment (SPA) survey collects data on TB diagnostic services, TB treatment, and/or follow-up services and facilities following DOTS (Directly-observed Treatment, Short-course) strategy and any treatment other than DOTS strategy.

Photo credit: © 2008 Anil Gulati, Courtesy of Photoshare. Wall paintings on a TB hospital in Nowgaon, District Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh, India, illustrate DOTS tuberculosis medication therapy.