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Childhood TB
Roadmap aims to get to zero childhood deaths from tuberculosis

Roadmap aims to get to zero childhood deaths from tuberculosis

Every year, there are 74,000 childhood deaths from TB. Every day, more than 200 children under the age of 15 die needlessly from the disease. Yesterday, the first ever targeted roadmap that outlines steps to end these unacceptable deaths was released. It makes clear that many of these deaths could be prevented each year through certain measures that are specifically designed to tackle childhood TB. The Roadmap for Childhood TB: Towards Zero Deaths, includes ten actions that, if implemented, could help save ten of thousands of children’s lives. These actions include the critical training and fostering of leadership among health workers, actively seeking out children at risk and providing preventative therapy, and closing the funding gap for childhood TB. Overarching these ten actions, the report outlines the need for four broad areas of effort. It states the importance of promoting greater awareness and understanding of childhood TB, collaboration and joint action, focused investments and continued research. Of course, one central element of defeating childhood TB is to increase financial support for these four efforts. Writing about the roadmap in the Huffington Post, Desmond Tutu makes clear that “ending the scourge of childhood tuberculosis doesn’t cost much” and all it needs More…

Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: No Promises

Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: No Promises

 Today we’re sharing both a moving and compelling video, Mutlidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: No Promises, that specifically tells the tale of TB in Tajikistan but that also serves to highlight the myriad of problems TB patients, their friends and families have to endure when undergoing, and following, treatment. The video focuses on issues surrounding childhood TB, the problems with both the length and type of treatments involved. Shockingly, it notes that 64,000 children die every year because of the disease. Exacerbating this shock, and sadness, is the fact that this number is likely to be higher given the range of problems currently associated in diagnosing children – you can read more about Childhood TB here. For those that do survive, they still have to deal with being unable to attend school or enjoy time with their friends. The duration and difficulty of treatment for both children and adults is another considerable problem. A problem that only serves to hamper the fight against tackling TB and, in particular, multidrug-resistant TB. When we know that with enough resources and political will we can eliminate TB the power of stories like these are even greater. You can find out more in the video below: Multidrug-Resistant More…

We Can Heal: Drug-resistant tuberculosis in children

We Can Heal: Drug-resistant tuberculosis in children

To mark World TB Day 2013, the Sentinel Project on Paediatric Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis and Treatment Action Group released a collection of 30 stories from 30 countries that identify what the TB community needs to do to achieve zero TB deaths, new infections, and suffering. As the release states, the collection of stories illustrate the problems we collectively face with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in children. The stories reveal the widespread problems of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of DR-TB while also bearing witness to the courage of the children who are fighting for their lives against DR-TB. Over the past 10 years, 40,000 cases of childhood TB were reported in the EU alone, indicating that TB in children remains a major challenge even with the European Region. A selection of the stories in the publication reflect this trend with stories from Moldova, Italy, Sweden, Belgium. All of the stories in this collection, both from within the EU and further afield, are testament to the work that remains to be done in ensuring that TB is eradicated once and for all and making sure that children across the world are able to live the carefree lives they deserve. Currently, children are going undiagnosed More…

New report highlights the urgent need for action on childhood tuberculosis

New report highlights the urgent need for action on childhood tuberculosis

A new report, Children and Tuberculosis: From Neglect to Action, outlining recommendations on how the international community and affected countries can combat childhood TB was released today by the ACTION global health advocacy partnership.  Despite the international community paying increasing attention to the issue of childhood tuberculosis and despite it being both preventable and treatable, TB remains a top ten killer of children worldwide. The WHO estimates 490,000 children get sick with TB each year, and up to 64,000 die as a result – although experts agree that actual figures are much higher. The report highlights the various issues facing children, predominantly the most vulnerable living in poverty, with TB. Not only are children prime targets given that their immune systems are not fully developed but the risk is further exacerbated by the lack of any appropriate, quality-assured paediatric TB drug formulations. As the report states: Drug companies perceive paediatric TB to be a small market with little profit. As a result, children are routinely excluded from drug treatment clinical trials and few child-friendly TB drugs exists, such as liquids or chewable tablets. In addition to the lack of child-friendly diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines, children are often overlooked or misdiagnosed in National TB Programmes. More…

Strong Advocacy Needed to Eliminate TB as a Major Killer of Children

Strong Advocacy Needed to Eliminate TB as a Major Killer of Children

Although a preventable and curable disease, TB makes up a considerable burden of disease affecting children. The WHO estimates that half a million children get sick with TB each year and up to 64,000 die as a result. However, most childhood TB researchers believe these figures represent a gross underestimation of the true problem as there is little data available on TB in children. Children are often left out of National TB Control Programmes because they tend to be less infectious than adults. Many health service providers also mistakenly consider TB to be an ‘adult’ disease. Because TB’s symptoms are often confused with symptoms of other common childhood diseases like pneumonia(treatment which can be carried out with the help of these tablets), children with TB are frequently misdiagnosed. Failing to deal with childhood TB cases means failing to address a reservoir of infection for future TB cases. We need strong advocacy to ensure that childhood TB does not remain a neglected issue. Diagnosing TB in children:  Children are more likely to have TB in places other than in their lungs (e.g. TB in the lymph nodes). Because of this, children are also much more difficult to identify. TB is usually diagnosed by taking a sputum sample More…

Children and TB: A Researcher’s Perspective

When I first began researching children and TB, I started with a simple question: how many children get sick with TB each year? The answer I got was shocking: “We’re not completely sure.” As a researcher, I found this difficult to believe. TB has been around for thousands of years, so how it that we still don’t have clear or comprehensive data? I needed to know more. I dug a bit further and found that in 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated at least one million children became sick with TB. However, most countries only report on TB cases that are “sputum smear positive” (where TB bacteria are visible under a microscope). But only 10-15 percent of children have this kind of TB. That being said, it is likely that the majority of childhood TB cases go unreported – making it very difficult to determine the true burden of childhood TB that exists in the world. To me, the lack of data highlights how neglected TB is as a children’s health issue. Little has been done to prioritize childhood TB in national health programs and to eliminate the disease as a major killer of children. With this report, I More…

ACTION Releases Eye-Opening Report Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing a Hidden Epidemic

ACTION’s enlightening analysis of the link between the burden of tuberculosis (TB) and the world’s most vulnerable children – those who are malnourished, orphans, or living with HIV sheds light on a neglected epidemic. The report, Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing a Hidden Epidemic, is a reminder that TB is not a disease of the past and remains a leading killer, especially of children whose underdeveloped immune systems leave them particularly susceptible. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 9 million people become sick with TB each year.2 At least 10-15 percent of these cases are in children under 15 – but the percentage is probably much higher, because childhood TB is under-reported.1 Despite these statistics and how long TB has been a known threat, we have yet to develop truly effective diagnostic tools, vaccines, or drugs specifically with kids in mind. Dr. Jeffrey Starke, a leading TB specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, stated that childhood TB “is a fundamentally different disease than adult tuberculosis. Its proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention require specific planning and resources. We must consider the unique nature of childhood TB if we’re to successfully eliminate TB anywhere in the world.” It is through this eye-opening report that ACTION More…

New ECDC and WHO joint report on TB: concern about multi drug-resistance and childhood TB

A new report, Tuberculosis surveillance in Europe 2009, a joint publication from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe to mark World Tuberculosis Day 2011, provides evidence for concern about the spread of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and the persistence of TB among children. ECDC is supporting WHO/Europe in developing a regional MDR-TB Plan and concerted actions are being taken to address childhood TB. While the EU/EEA Member States continue to mark a decline in the overall notification of TB cases, the report highlights the need to address childhood TB as a key component on the way towards TB elimination: Almost 40,000 TB cases in children were notified in the past decade with more than 3,300 reported cases in 2009. In addition, only 19 per cent of all childhood TB cases were confirmed bacteriologically – clearly indicating that TB diagnosis in children remains a major challenge even within the EU/EEA. Treatment outcome rates are the lowest recorded globally with the highest multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) rates in the world recorded within the region. The number of deaths and patients lost to follow-up are still a matter for concern. Vulnerable populations, including children, still More…

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