WHO urges end to childhood TB deaths

WHOThe death of more than 74 000 children from tuberculosis (TB) could be prevented each year through measures outlined in the first ever action plan developed specifically on the disease.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “Roadmap for Childhood TB: Toward Zero Deaths,”, launched on Tuesday by global TB leaders  in Washington D.C., estimates that $120 million per year could have a major impact on saving tens of thousands of children’s lives from TB,  including children infected with TB and HIV.

The WHO made the roadmap available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday.

It said every day, more than 200 children under the age of 15 die needlessly from TB – a disease that is preventable and curable.

WHO estimates that as many as one in 10 TB cases globally comprising six to 10 per cent of all cases are among the age group.

However the number could be even higher because many children are simply undiagnosed.

The new roadmap builds on the latest knowledge of the disease and identifies clear actions to prevent the child deaths.

“Any child who dies from TB is one child too many,” says Dr Mario Raviglione, Director, Global Tuberculosis Programme at WHO.

“TB is preventable and treatable, and this roadmap focuses on immediate actions governments and partners can take to stop children dying,” he said.

The launch of the first roadmap on TB and children follows increasing awareness on the urgent need to address the issue.

Under the child survival movement’s banner of A Promise Renewed, more than 175 countries signed a pledge in June 2012, vowing to redouble efforts to stop children from dying of preventable diseases, including tuberculosis.

“Far too many children with tuberculosis are not getting the treatment they need,”  Nicholas Alipui, Director of Programmes for UNICEF said.

“Most of these children live in the poorest, most vulnerable households. It is wrong that any children should die for want of a simple, affordable cure, especially where there are community-based options to deliver life-saving interventions,” he noted.

The Roadmap for Childhood TB: Toward Zero Deaths recommends 10 actions at national and global levels, which include the needs of children and adolescents in research, policy development and clinical practices and collecting and reporting better data, including preventive measures, among other interventions.

“If a small child can summon the bravery to complete a six-month TB treatment, the global community must be similarly brave in its ambitions to defeat the epidemic,” Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership,” said.

“To get to zero TB deaths, we must focus on the most vulnerable groups and children are the most vulnerable of all. The steps outlined in this roadmap are simple and low-cost. We owe it to the children of the world to put this plan into action.

“If we can shift TB diagnosis and treatment out of specialised programmes and into other existing maternal and child health activities, we automatically gain reach and scale,” says José Luis Castro, Interim Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

“Combining that scale with investment in tools and medicine would save tens of thousands of lives,” he said.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.