A new study conducted in Uganda and present at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health, however, shows that children on empirical TB treatment were more likely to die than children on TB treatment who had confirmed TB. Among child patients on empirical TB treatment, 15 out of 126 (11.9%) died versus 0 out of 18 children with confirmed TB (0%).
“Our findings stress the urgent need for TB diagnostics that are appropriate and effective for diagnosing TB in children.
Treating TB based solely on symptoms rather than a confirmed diagnosis is leading to unnecessary deaths among children that could be avoided with the availability of proper diagnostics,” said Maryline Bonnet of MSF, who presented the study.
Household contact investigation improves childhood TB case finding, treatment and prevention in Uganda.
DETECT Child TB (Decentralize TB services and Engage Communities to Transform lives of Children with TB) has more than doubled the number of children diagnosed as a proportion of total cases.
In Kabarole, a rural district, the number of children diagnosed increased from a baseline of 7.4% to 16% of total TB cases from July to September. As part of the project, 299 health workers have been trained on diagnosis and treatment of TB in children, including preventative care, specifically by providing Isoniazid therapy to prevent TB infection from progressing to active TB disease.
In addition, 178 community health workers have been trained on household contact investigation procedures, which enables districts to find children with TB early and quickly start them on treatment.
“Children with TB have long been overlooked by the public health system. With DETECT Child TB, we are correcting this. All children have a right to live without TB. This starts with making sure they receive a proper diagnosis,” said Dr Anna Nakanwagi Mukwaya, Director of The Union Uganda Office.