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Opinion Pieces Address ‘Roadmap For Childhood TB’ Report

On Tuesday, the WHO, Stop TB Partnership, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, CDC, USAID, UNICEF, the Treatment Action Group (TAG), and other partners released a report (.pdf), titled “Roadmap for Childhood TB: Towards Zero Deaths,” which “seeks to outline the activities that need to be implemented to accelerate progress toward the elimination of childhood [tuberculosis (TB)],” according to the TAG website (10/1). The following summarize two opinion pieces on the issue of childhood TB.

  • José Luis Castro, Devex: “The painful reality of public health in low- and middle-income countries today is that strategies and tools exist to treat TB effectively, but they do not reach everyone, especially children,” Castro, interim executive director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, writes. “One reason is that TB in children often lurks beneath — and is masked by — other diseases and symptoms; and, identifying it is further hampered by difficulties in applying current diagnostic methods to children. Health professionals and health systems in many countries are not adequately prepared to detect and manage childhood TB,” he states. The new report “makes clear that by scaling up the tools we currently have, and investing modestly in improved approaches for the future, those 74,000 boys and girls who die each year [from TB] can indeed be saved,” Castro says, outlining the report’s primary points (10/1).
  • Desmond Tutu, Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog: “That we have allowed this disease to continue to plague our lives and especially our children’s lives is a travesty,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Tutu writes, adding, “I am pleased to see that the global health community is becoming more focused on the specific childhood problem.” He notes the report has 10 steps that can be grouped into three areas. “The first is to activate a sense of urgency beyond the TB community”; “Second, we must include the needs of children in research, policy development and clinical practices”; and, “Finally, we need to increase funding,” he writes. The WHO estimates $80 million a year is needed to end childhood TB deaths, Tutu notes, saying PEPFAR “has provided millions to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa. But we need more money, from multiple sources, to reach the goal.” He concludes, “[T]his is an eminently solvable problem. All the world needs is a more aggressive commitment to end the disease” (10/1).