When I first began researching children and TB, I started with a simple question: how many children get sick with TB each year?
The answer I got was shocking: “We’re not completely sure.”
As a researcher, I found this difficult to believe. TB has been around for thousands of years, so how it that we still don’t have clear or comprehensive data? I needed to know more.
I dug a bit further and found that in 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated at least one million children became sick with TB. However, most countries only report on TB cases that are “sputum smear positive” (where TB bacteria are visible under a microscope). But only 10-15 percent of children have this kind of TB. That being said, it is likely that the majority of childhood TB cases go unreported - making it very difficult to determine the true burden of childhood TB that exists in the world.
To me, the lack of data highlights how neglected TB is as a children’s health issue. Little has been done to prioritize childhood TB in national health programs and to eliminate the disease as a major killer of children. With this report, I hope to help change that.
Making the fight against childhood TB a global health priority is overdue. Please join me in taking action against childhood TB!
Read ACTION’s latest report Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing a Hidden Epidemic