Tuberculosis (TB)

Systematic screening for active tuberculosis: an operational guide


Publication details

Number of pages: 66
Publication date: 2015
Languages: English
ISBN: 978 92 4 154917 2



The WHO has published guidelines that set out the principles for screening for active TB and provide recommendations on prioritizing of risk groups and choosing a screening approach. Screening should not be done on a mass, indiscriminate scale because this is expensive, of relatively low benefit and can result in many false positive results. One of the key principles set out in the guidelines is that screening for TB needs to be properly targeted to high-risk groups and tailored to each specific situation, depending on the epidemiological, social and health-systems contexts.

This document provides practical guidance on translating WHO’s principles and recommendations into a national or local screening strategy by:

  • assessing the situation;
  • defining the objectives of screening;
  • prioritizing risk groups for screening;
  • choosing screening tools, algorithms and approaches for each risk group;
  • planning and budgeting for, and implementing the strategy;
  • monitoring and evaluating the strategy.

The guide includes a description of a web-based tool that can be used to help identify and prioritize risk groups and chose appropriate screening and diagnostic algorithms. The tool is designed to assist with the initial planning stages of creating a targeted screening strategy, but several other factors than those covered by the tool need to be considered in the planning process. This guide also includes additional online material, including other tools and references to assist with planning and implementing screening programmes.