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Kitty van Weezenbeek: “Childhood TB has been ignored for far too long”

The seventy-first World Health Assembly meeting of the World Health Organization continued to build upon the successes and bold commitments promised during earlier international conferences on tuberculosis including the recent END TB Summit in Delhi, the Acceleration towards Indonesia Free of TB: Multisectoral Contribution meeting in December 2017, and the Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era held in November 2017.

Focus on Childhood TB

A side event, hosted by KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV), the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, and the Union, at the World Health Assembly convened to discuss the strategies needed to close gaps in the global TB response as well as set priorities for the first-ever United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis scheduled for September of this year. This side event placed special attention on TB and children. An expert panel during this event was  chaired by executive director of KNCV, Kitty van Weezenbeek:

“Although awareness is growing, childhood TB has been ignored for far too long. There is an urgent need for feasible and implementable policies to guide clinical practice, engaging a broader range of stakeholders, especially those who are involved in childcare and child survival initiatives in both the public and private sectors.”

Despite being a preventable and curable disease, nearly one million children worldwide each year develop active TB, leading to 239,000 deaths. Children with TB present unique challenges for TB interventions. They are more difficult to diagnose, are at greater risk to develop serious forms of TB and medications formulated for adults are hard for children to swallow and even when the pills are crushed, there is a risk of under- or over-dosage when medicating children.

KNCV Childhood TB Benchmarking Tool

It has long been part of our policies to push for the integration of TB services into general child healthcare. This was the driving force behind the development of the KNCV Childhood TB Benchmarking Tool. It is a self-assessment tool designed to assist a countries’ national TB strategy, by comparing their childhood TB policies with the latest WHO guidelines on childhood TB and define ways to strengthen TB care for children in those countries. This tool has already been used in Vietnam, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi and the Netherlands.

KNCV strongly believes that childhood TB should be a high priority in global health. We will continue to push for policies that reduce the rate of TB incidence worldwide, especially for one of the most vulnerable populations—children.

Download the KNCV Benchmarking Tool for Childhood TB Policies, Practices and Planning here.

Read more:

2018 is the Year for Collective Change in our Fight against Tuberculosis

If Indonesia Can Eliminate TB, So Can the World

Indonesia Accelerates To End TB

Moving towards the Global End Game of Tuberculosis

KNCV Benchmarking Tool for Childhood TB Policies and Practices

Childhood TB