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‘Nutrition initiatives in India must prioritise children with TB’

According to the latest Global TB report, only 41% of children with TB and 11% of children with drug-resistant TB received treatment between 2018 and 2020.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: November 20, 2021 10:33:07 am
Global TB report, tuberculosis, pune news, pune news today, pune latest news, tuberculosis cases, tuberculosis patients, tuberculosis in india, tb news, pune latest newsThe current target include treating 3.2 million children with TB and 1.15 lakh children with drug-resistant TB by 2022. (Representational)

EVERY DAY more than 650 children die from tuberculosis (TB), a disease that is both preventable and treatable. However, the pandemic disrupted efforts to treat children with TB and drug-resistant TB, as well as prevent TB in children, say experts.

According to the latest Global TB report, only 41% of children with TB and 11% of children with drug-resistant TB received treatment between 2018 and 2020. Ahead of World Children’s Day, on November 20, Deputy Executive Director of Stop TB Partnership Dr Suvanand Sahu told The Indian Express that nutrition initiatives in the country must prioritise children with TB.

The current target include treating 3.2 million children with TB and 1.15 lakh children with drug-resistant TB by 2022. Globally in 2020 more than one million children developed TB and of these about three lakh children were from India.

According to Dr Sahu, globally almost four lakh children received treatment for TB of which nearly a lakh were children from the country. As the world prepares to celebrate World Children’s Day, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership highlighted the setbacks suffered in the fight against childhood tuberculosis (TB) as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Dr Sahu also pointed out that before the pandemic, every year India was making rapid progress in improving the proportion of people left without treatment for TB. “This trend got reversed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. Overall, there was a 27% decline in the total number of people treated for TB in 2020 (1.6 million treated) compared to 2019 (2.2 million treated). The decline in children accessing TB treatment in 2020 versus 2019 was more severe at 33% when compared to adults (27%). We saw a similar pattern in several other large high TB burden countries. In 2021, when the second wave of Covid hit India, we saw a similar decline in TB diagnosis and treatment and a similar improvement after the wave was over,” he said.

He pointed out that there could be many possible reasons why children faced increased barriers to TB care during the pandemic.  First, TB in children is more complex to diagnose than adults. Restricted movements during the pandemic may have made it more difficult for children to access such specialized care. Second, young children often get affected by more severe forms of TB with rapid progression and increased mortality, he added.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that globally the TB mortality increased in 2020 when compared to 2019.

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