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Meningitis is a relatively rare form of tuberculosis, but it carries a high mortality rate, reaching 50% in some settings, with higher rates among patients with HIV co-infection and those with drug-resistant disease. Most studies of tuberculosis meningitis (TBM) tend to focus on better diagnosis, drug treatment and supportive care for patients in hospital. However, there is significant variability in mortality between settings, which may be due to specific variation in the availability and quality of health care services, both prior to, during, and after hospitalization. Such variations have not been studied thoroughly, and we therefore present a theoretical framework that may help to identify where efforts should be focused in providing optimal services for TBM patients. As a first step, we propose an adjusted cascade of care for TBM and patient pathway studies that might help identify factors that account for losses and delays across the cascade. Many of the possible gaps in the TBM cascade are related to health systems factors; we have selected nine domains and provide relevant examples of systems factors for TBM for each of these domains that could be the basis for a health needs assessment to address such gaps. Finally, we suggest some immediate action that could be taken to help make improvements in services. Our theoretical framework will hopefully lead to more health system research and improved care for patients suffering from this most dangerous form of tuberculosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Res

Publication Date





cascade of care, health systems, meningitis, patient pathway analysis, tuberculosis