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CHAMPS Points the Way to a Tuberculosis Free World
Accurate data on TB infection in children provides a path to ending this global epidemic.
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most urgent global health challenges in Africa and Asia, where CHAMPS works. It is the ninth highest cause of death worldwide, and presents a significant threat to young children, especially children under the age of two, and children suffering from malnutrition or a compromised immune system. The World Health Organization’s 2016 Global TB Report estimates that one million children (<15 years) currently suffer from TB worldwide and that more than 210,000 die from the disease each year.
These estimates are considered by many experts to be too low. Even though TB is a serious threat, it often goes unrecognized due to non-specific symptoms and its difficulty to diagnose in children. If a child dies from TB and a proper diagnosis does not happen, inaccurate conclusions about the cause of death are drawn, which results in under-reporting of TB.
In an interview with Public Radio International Jeffrey Starke, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas said, “It’s a terrible underestimation,” adding, “kids under two are at the highest risk of developing the disease.”
The underdiagnoses of TB, especially in young children, and the underrepresentation of the disease as a cause of child mortality, prevents public health leaders from taking targeted actions to stop the spread of TB. This is an issue that CHAMPS is working to address through the generation of high-quality data that accurately represents the causes of child mortality, including TB, at CHAMPS sites. CHAMPS data will allow public health leaders and decision makers to pin-point areas of need and take actions to stop the spread of TB and other infectious diseases.
The CHAMPS network is working toward a world without TB and other preventable diseases: a world where all children can survive and thrive.