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GlobalPost, Humanitarian Agencies Examine Impact Of Childhood TB

Noting the WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Monday issued a joint statement calling for an additional $1.6 million a year to fight tuberculosis (TB) in low- and middle-income countries, GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines the global impact of childhood TB, writing, “While health officials did not single out the devastating impact of the disease on children … WHO estimates that at least 500,000 children contract TB each year and that 70,000 die from the disease, largely in Asia and Africa.” The news service continues, “TB experts widely agree that these numbers do not tell the whole story,” as “[c]hildhood TB is difficult to address because it often goes undetected.”

“The challenges to identifying children with TB are compounded because guidelines for finding and treating childhood TB have not been widely implemented in countries where TB is most prevalent, [Jeffrey Starke, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas,] said,” according to GlobalPost. However, “[e]fforts are underway to find and treat more children,” the news service writes and highlights some ongoing research and initiatives (Miley, 3/18). In similar news, UNITAID and the TB Alliance warn in a press release that “[i]n spite of an estimated 500,000 new annual cases of children with tuberculosis (TB), there are no appropriate medicines for them … lead[ing] to improper treatment, treatment failure, spread of this highly contagious disease, and conditions ripe for the development of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria” (3/18). In an article on its webpage, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reports on the treatment of children at the pediatric tuberculosis hospital in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (3/11).