Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Children and TB: A Hidden Epidemic

Children and TB: A Hidden Epidemic

Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
March 18, 2012

Tuberculosis (TB) among children is rarely discussed. Because children, more often than not cannot speak for themselves, not much about how they're affected by the disease ever hits the headlines. This is despite the fact that TB remains among the top ten killers of children worldwide. In spite of this, virtually no public or political attention is paid to TB as a children’s health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 176,000 children died, but the consensus among researchers says that actual figures are higher. In 2009 alone, at least 1 million children became sick with TB.

A report titled "Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing A Hidden Epidemic," states that TB preys on the most vulnerable children - the orphaned, the malnourished, those living with HIV - and it causes an almost unimaginable burden to children and their families.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Starke, a leading TB specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, childhood TB “is a fundamentally different disease from adult tuberculosis. Its proper diagnosis, treatment, and prevention require specific planning and resources. We must consider the unique nature of childhood TB if we’re to successfully eliminate TB anywhere in the world.”

"Approximately 9 million people become sick with TB each year.2 At least 10-15 percent of these cases are in children under 15 — but the percentage is probably much higher, because childhood TB is under-reported," states the report.

Most children have a type of TB classified as sputum smear-negative TB which makes them less likely to spread the disease to others — but it’s still deadly if left untreated. Because on average children are less contagious than adults, they’ve been overlooked by national TB programs.

"While adults most often get TB in their lungs, in children the disease often spreads to other parts of the body. Children are therefore more likely than adults to develop severe forms of TB, including TB meningitis. TB meningitis occurs when the bacteria spread to the central nervous system, including the brain. The bacteria inflame the tissue that protects the brain, causing it to swell. TB meningitis is most common in children under two years old, and the disease is almost always fatal without treatment. TB can attack virtually any part of a child’s body in similar fashion," states the report.

It is more cost effective to prevent disease than it is to treat it. The most effective way to prevent childhood TB is to stop the disease from spreading in the wider community.

“Even with the limited tools currently available, better organization of services and aggressively identifying recently exposed and infected children would prevent tens of thousands of tuberculosis cases in children every year,” said Dr. Starke. (CNS)

*************

Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha, born in Zimbabwe, is a children's writer, poet, playwright, journalist, social activist and publisher. He has extensively written on health for Citizen News Service (CNS). His first published book, 'The Dream Of Stones', was awarded the Zimbabwe National Award for Outstanding Children's Book for 2004.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Binoy Kampmark: Totalitarian Cyber-Creep: Mark Zuckerberg In The Metaverse

Never leave matters of maturity to the Peter Panners of Silicon Valley. At their most benign, they are easily dismissed as potty and keyboard mad. At their worst, their fantasies assume the noxious, demonic forms that reduce all users of their technology to units of information and flashes of data... More>>

Keith Rankin: 'Influenza' Pandemics In New Zealand's Past
On Tuesday (16 Nov) I was concerned to hear this story on RNZ's Checkpoint (National distances itself from ex-MP after video with discredited academic). My concern here is not particularly with the "discredited academic", although no academic should suffer this kind of casual public slur. (Should we go further and call Simon Thornley, the academic slurred, a 'trailing epidemiologist'? In contrast to the epithet 'leading epidemiologist', as applied to Rod Jackson in this story from Newshub.) Academics should parley through argument, not insult... More>>


Digitl: When the internet disappears
Kate Lindsay writes about The internet that disappears. at Embedded. She says all that talk about the internet being forever is wrong. Instead: "...It’s on more of like a 10-year cycle. It’s constantly upgrading and migrating in ways that are incompatible with past content, leaving broken links and error pages in its wake. In other instances, the sites simply shutter, or become so layered over that finding your own footprint is impossible... More>>



Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>