Diagnosis and management of Tuberculosis (TB) among children remain a challenge in the country due to lack of awareness.
This was disclosed on Thursday during a media orientation on Pediatric TB organised by the Facilitators of Community Transformation (Fact) with funding from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF) in Blantyre.
Benjamin Mosiwa Fact director of programmes said there is no comprehensive or systematic screening of TB among children as most parents are not aware of the options that are there.
He called on the media to raise awareness on options that are there to treat and prevent TB especially among children who are at risk of developing TB.
“Any child under the age of five that comes from a home with an adult that has TB, children with HIV and those with health problems such as malnutrition need to be put on preventive TB therapy,” said Mosiwa.
Malawi like the rest of the world targets to double case detection by among others identifying an approximately 2000 pediatric TB cases, treat at least 1700 pediatric TB cases and initiate at least 2400 children on preventive treatment.
“The goal is to eradicate TB, and we target children because they are the future. Even in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, TB diagnosis should not be forgotten,” said Mosiwa.
The care and treatment officer for the National TB Control Programme Kuzani Mbendera said with various interventions, TB cases have dropped by 26 percent over the past ten years with children making up 9 percent of the total case burdens, translating to 1300 children per year.
He said the nation has put in enough capital investment for improved diagnostic equipment for TB.
“All-over the world finding TB and saying definitively that this child has TB is difficult because of the nature of children, we have since tried to improve the situation by introducing advanced diagnostic techniques and training healthcare workers,” said Mbendera.
He stressed the need for adults to seek early treatment for TB to prevent spreading the disease to children, contact tracing, awareness on the symptoms and signs of TB among the masses and increased demand for the drugs that are used to prevent TB, the second leading cause of death in Malawi.
Mosiwa; The goal is to eradicate TB.