On October 1, 2013, the World Health Organization, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Stop TB Partnership and other partners launched the Childhood TB Roadmap, a guiding document that seeks to outline the activities that need to be implemented to accelerate progress toward the elimination of childhood TB. MSF released the below short statement in response:
“MSF welcomes the efforts of the Childhood TB Roadmap to reverse years of neglect and to urgently challenge today’s untenable status quo, which sees hundreds of children dying unnecessarily each day from a preventable and curable disease.
This is the second year WHO has estimated annual childhood TB deaths, which climbed from 64,000 in 2011 to 74,000 in 2012. The mere reporting of this important data is in itself a significant leap forward, although the data remains a vast underestimation of the true number of childhood TB deaths, as it excludes all children with HIV and misses many others whose deaths are attributed to pneumonia, meningitis and other diseases.
We know that children are the most likely members of a household to contract TB, but vast numbers are being missed by TB programmes, and even those identified as high risk are difficult to diagnose. The Childhood TB Roadmap rightly calls for shared responsibility for childhood TB across all paediatric health programmes, which is the only path forward if we are to find and help the kids who are slipping through the cracks of siloed TB programmes. Sick children should be properly diagnosed and treated for TB no matter where they encounter medical care.
MSF calls on governments to fully fund the $120 million per year that WHO says is needed to address childhood TB and TB/HIV co-infection.
Another important step will be the release of the first comprehensive update since 2006 of the WHO technical guidelines for management of tuberculosis in children, expected to be published by the end of 2013.”
- Grania Brigden, TB Advisor, MSF Access Campaign