$120m needed to save children from TB
Washington, October 2, 2013
The deaths of more than 74,000 children from tuberculosis (TB) could be prevented each year through measures outlined in the first action plan developed specifically on TB and children.
The world will have to spend an estimated $120 million per year on the roadmap launched by WHO yesterday.
Every day, more than 200 children under the age of 15 die from TB – a disease that is preventable and curable, said a statement issued at the launch of the "Roadmap for Childhood TB: Toward Zero Deaths," by global TB leaders in Washington DC.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as 1 in 10 TB cases globally (six to 10 per cent of all TB cases) are among this age group, but that 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 these child deaths.
“TB is preventable and treatable, and this roadmap focuses on immediate actions governments and partners can take to stop children dying,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, director, Global Tuberculosis Programme at WHO.
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.
The $120 million a year in new funding for addressing TB in children from governments and donors includes $40 million for HIV antiretroviral therapy and preventive therapy (to prevent active TB disease) for children co-infected with TB and HIV.
The funds will also go towards improving detection, developing better medicines for children and integrating TB treatment into existing maternal and child health programmes. Getting more paediatric health professionals to actively screen for TB with better tools, i.e. drugs, diagnostics and vaccines, will help capture the full scope of the epidemic and reach more children with life-saving treatment sooner.
“Far too many children with tuberculosis are not getting the treatment they need,” says Nicholas Alipui, director of programmes for Unicef. “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.”
Ten actions to save young lives
The roadmap recommends 10 actions at national and global levels:
1. Include the needs of children and adolescents in research, policy development and clinical practices.
2. Collect and report better data, including preventive measures.
3. Develop training and reference materials on childhood TB for health workers.
4. Foster local expertise and leadership among child health workers at all levels of health systems.
5. Use critical intervention strategies, such as intensive case finding, contact tracing and preventive therapy; implement policies enabling early diagnosis; and ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of high-quality anti-TB medicines for children.
6. Engage key stakeholders and establish effective communication and collaboration between the health sector and other sectors that address the social determinants of health and access to care.
7. Develop integrated family- and community-centred strategies to provide comprehensive and effective services at the community level.
8. Address research gaps in the following areas: epidemiology, fundamental research, the development of new tools (such as diagnostics, medicines and vaccines); and address gaps in operational research and research looking at health systems and services.
9. Close all funding gaps for childhood TB.
10. Form coalitions and partnerships to study and evaluate the best strategies for preventing and managing childhood TB, and for improving tools used for diagnosis and treatment.
“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,” says Dr Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. “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.” - TradeArabia News Service