Prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis in Karachi central prison

Document Type



Pulmonary and Critical Care


Objective: To determine the extent of pulmonary tuberculosis among prisoners in Karachi central jail, so that strategy for targeted intervention can be planned.

METHOD: This prospective observational study was done at Karachi central prison from 7-2-2002 to 14-2-2002. A team of doctors, laboratory and x-ray technicians visited the central prison. Patients who had symptoms suggestive of pulmonary tuberculosis were included in the study. Their chest x-ray was taken in the jail and three "spot specimens" of sputum were collected for three consecutive days. The sputum specimens were processed at the laboratory of Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases, Karachi.

Results: Out of 4870 prisoners, 79 (1.62%) were pulmonary tuberculosis suspects. All were male and their mean age was 32 (22-75) years. Sixteen suspects already diagnosed were on anti-tuberculosis treatment (ATT) while 11 suspects gave history of ATT in the past for incomplete duration varying from 3-4 weeks to 3 months either regularly or irregularly. Twenty-two (28%) suspects were not expectorating while fifty-seven (72%) submitted the sputum for AFB (Acid Fast Bacilli), of which only one was smear positive. Radiologically, 39 (49%) chest x-rays including those of 22 who were not expectorating were normal. Eight (10%) showed healed lesion. Thirty-two (40.5%) chest x-rays were suggestive of active pulmonary tuberculosis, so clinically and radiologically 32 prisoners were suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis. The prevalence of active pulmonary tuberculosis in jail population determined by using the formula, number of persons with active TB in jail divided by the total number of persons booked into jail was 657 per 100,000, which is 3.75 times higher than general population.

CONCLUSION: Pulmonary tuberculosis is 3.75 times more common than general population in Karachi central prison and concrete efforts are needed to eradicate tuberculosis from this segment of population. The integration of provincial TB control program with that of jail health services is urgently required.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pakistan Medical Association