Every Child Counts: Our Commitment to Ending TB among Children

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease that affects millions of children worldwide. According to the Who Health Organization (WHO), over 1 million children under the age of 15 fall ill with TB each year, and approximately 200,000 children dies from the disease. TB in children is a major public health concern, as it can lead to serious health complications, including death, if left untreated. Children are particularly vulnerable to TB due to their developing immune systems, making them more susceptible to infection. The disease can manifest in various forms including pulmonary TB, which affects the lungs, and extrapulmonary TB, which affects other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing the spread of TB and saving young lives. However, many children with TB remain undiagnosed and untreated, highlighting the need for the increased awareness, access to healthcare, and targeted interventions.

As part of the commitment to ending tuberculosis, the USAID Funded, CCCRN Led ACE-4 Project where ARFH serves as one of the consortium partners coordinating TB/HIV component of the grant recognized the importance of prioritizing pediatric TB case finding, given the vulnerability of children to the disease and the potential for severe outcomes if left untreated. The States TB Program for Kwara and Niger in partnership with the ACE 4 Project, organized Child Tuberculosis Active Case Finding Week 2024. During the week of 27th-31st May 2024, selected 11 local government area of Kwara State and 17 in Niger conducted intensive active case finding targeting children from age 0-14years.

The aim of the initiative was to sensitize, screen, identify and diagnose Tuberculosis (TB) cases among children, providing timely treatment and care to those affected. During the campaign, our team of selected volunteers visited households and schools, screened children for TB symptoms, and provided diagnostic tests and linkage to care for those in need. The team also educated and sensitized school children, households and caregivers about TB prevention and management.

The results were remarkable; as children learn more about TB infection and prevention, children who were presumptive to TB were sent for further diagnostic investigations with 42 children identified to have active TB and were placed on treatment in the TB DOT Units. Also a great number of school children and households were now aware of TB and ways to prevent them from being infected, and the symptoms to look out for in identifying a TB case. Our efforts have given them a chance at a healthy future, free from the burden of TB. 

Summary of achievement

  • About 2053 households and 77 schools were reached through education and awareness activities
  • 6105 children were screened in total from the campaign
  • 457 children were presumed with symptoms and sent for further investigations.
  • 42 children were diagnosed for TB and place on treatment during the campaign while some of the other diagnostic results were not available during the campaign.

In conclusion, early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing the spread of TB and saving lives, especially in children. We are committed to continuing our active case finding efforts to ensure that no child suffers from TB. All stakeholders also need to work together to create a TB-free future for all children. ARFH seeks the support of everyone in ensuring more awareness is created about TB in our various communities.

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