Abstract

Tuberculosis (TB) case detection under the Directly Observed Treatment – Short-course (DOTS) strategy largely relies upon care seeking of chronic coughers and the actions taken by their healthcare providers. This study aimed to describe the healthcare utilization of people 15 years of age with a chronic cough in urban areas of Bangladesh and to understand their management by private practitioners. A community-based, household survey included 60,382 persons ≥15 years of age from two administrative areas of Dhaka City. A total of 1138 (2%) were identified to have had a cough for 3 weeks or more. This survey was linked to interviews of licensed and unlicensed practitioners in Dhaka and the Chittagong City Corporation of Bangladesh. Among identified coughers, 1046 (92%) were interviewed, of whom 648 (62%) reported having sought care from any provider. Among care seekers, 16% directly attended a DOTS facility. The remaining 84% sought care from the private sector, where less than 1% reported referral to a DOTS facility. Bivariate and multivariate assessments showed that care seeking from a licensed private practitioner or a DOTS centre was significantly associated with severity of the disease and previous diagnosis of TB.