Roadmap outlines steps to end infant TB deaths

Sam Banda Jr, Malawi 
(First published in BNL Times, Malawi on 8 October 2013)
The lives of more than 74,000 children lost to Tuberculosis (TB) each year could be saved according to the first plan tailored to address TB in children. International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Stop TB Partnership are among the organization which have come up with the plan. The roadmap estimates that at least US$120 million per year would be needed to address childhood TB.

National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) Programme Manager of Malawi James Mpunga has since hailed the move saying it has come at the right time considering that childhood TB is an area that resources have not been provided for traditionally.

“Diagnostic challenges in children have been known for a long time, the need to invest in better less toxic drugs and the need to actively screen children exposed to TB patients are all well documented.

“This is therefore good news, however; I would like to hope that this now goes beyond rhetoric. Children deserve better but resources are currently on the decline worldwide towards TB control,” said Mpunga.

He said that domestic funding towards TB is dwindling as donors are also considering support in this sector. Mpunga said recently that pediatric cases of TB in the country are managed according to NTP TB treatment guidelines as contained in the TB Manual.

“The proportion of Pediatric TB cases is 15 percent of the total notified TB cases. As NTP we have updated treatment guidelines for children in our new TB manual to take care of advances that have been made in this field,” he said.

He added that children present a few challenges in both diagnosis and treatment especially in settings like Malawi where HIV prevalence is high. According to a press release from the leading agencies, everyday, more than 200 children under the age of 15 die needlessly from this preventable and curable disease.

Sam Banda Jr, Malawi 
Citizen News Service - CNS 
(First published in BNL Times, Malawi on 8 October 2013)