Fusing journalism and TB – telling the stories as they are

JATB in Stockholm!

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JATB is going places. In reponse to a story that appeared in this blog on childhood TB and its associated problems, one of our members has been invited to speak at the International Childhood Tuberculosis Meeting 2011 being held in Stockholm as a partnership between European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and Stop TB Partnership. JATB will be presenting a session on What lessons can be learnt from a health journalist committed to TB.

About the conference
Children with tuberculosis (TB) are usually not given high priority in national TB control programmes despite increasing recognition that they are a vulnerable and important group. Children suffer severe TB related illness that contributes significantly to the overall burden of TB and potentially to overall child mortality. Worldwide, about 1 million TB cases occur each year in children (under 15 years of age) . In addition, even in low/intermediate incidence settings like the European Union there is a substantial number of childhood TB cases, reaching up to about 40,000 cases over the last decade .

Diagnosis, treatment and control of TB in children is challenging. The risk of progression from infection to disease is increased among children, in particular the young (0-4 years), HIV-infected and malnourished. These are the groups that pose the greatest diagnostic challenges. Young children are also at risk of developing severe and disseminated TB such as miliary TB and TB meningitis. Bacteriological confirmation of the diagnosis of TB is challenging because of difficulties with obtaining sputum samples, the paucibacillary nature of disease and because of a lack of culture facilities in most high-burden TB settings. For this reason, the extent of drug resistant TB in children is not well documented. Basic and translational research on diagnostic tools has not focused on paediatric needs to date. The usual presentation with paucibacillary disease means that treatment outcomes are usually good, and the risk for drug-related toxicity is very low when using recommended first-line treatment regimens. However, adherence is a challenge and outcome can be poor in at-risk children such as HIV-infected, or when diagnosis is delayed or missed in the context of severe pneumonia. Despite the obvious need, especially for new tools for the diagnosis of TB disease, children are rarely targeted for evaluation of new diagnostic approaches and are infrequently included in clinical trials to evaluate new drugs or new treatment strategies.

To date, considerable efforts on TB have been undertaken under the framework of Millennium Development Goal 6. However, improving child health is also the prime focus of Millennium Development Goal 4. By appreciating that tuberculosis and other respiratory tract infections seriously impacts on the health of children, it is important that great efforts are taken to eliminate TB also in this vulnerable group, to make progress towards improved childhood health. Together with the Childhood TB Subgroup (DEWG-STOP TB Partnership) ECDC is hosting a meeting on childhood tuberculosis, in a joint effort to highlight the current situation and to move the agenda forward in order to achieve a concerted advocacy approach and to hear the voice of the children.

Bharathi Ghanashyam

Written by JournalistsAgainstTB

March 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Posted in TB and Media

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