The Threat of Tuberculosis in Children

Shedding Light on the Airborne Disease and its Impact on Children

According to Dr. Babajide Kadiri, the team lead for the USAID IHVN TB LON 3 Project in Lagos state, Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease that affects both genders, including children. Children, especially those living with adults who have TB, HIV-positive children, and those who are malnourished, are particularly at risk, Kadiri stated.


Types and Signs of TB in Children

Understanding the Varied Manifestations and Symptoms of TB in Children

Kadiri highlighted that pulmonary TB is the most common type, although TB can affect any part of the body. Surprisingly, only 25% of Nigerians possess adequate knowledge about TB, despite its prevalence. Symptoms that should prompt seeking medical attention include a persistent cough lasting for two weeks or longer, unexplained weight loss, excessive sweating at night, and persistent low fever.

Identifying TB in Children: Signs and Challenges

Raising Awareness of Childhood TB Diagnosis and Treatment

Kadiri emphasized the importance of recognizing the signs of TB in children, such as unexplained weight loss, failure to thrive or gain weight, persistent fever, and a persistent cough of two weeks. Close contact with someone affected by TB, such as a caregiver or nanny, can also increase the risk. However, several challenges, including low awareness, stigma, limited media engagement, and inadequate funding for childhood TB control, hinder effective diagnosis and treatment.


Diagnosis and Treatment of TB in Children

The Path to Healing: Diagnostic Tests and Treatment Options

To diagnose TB, Kadiri explained that sputum tests, chest X-rays, and stool tests are conducted for pulmonary TB in children. Treatment involves a minimum of six months of oral medications. Kadiri also cautioned about drug-resistant TB (MDR TB), which can occur due to improper adherence to treatment or direct infection from someone with MDR TB.


National Tuberculosis Testing Week for Children

Nationwide Initiative to Combat Childhood TB

The National Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Buruli Ulcer Control Programme (NTBLCP) are actively working to control TB in children. Initiatives include rapid diagnostic tests for TB, active TB case finding in communities across 24 states, support for contact investigation, and training of healthcare workers. Additionally, the Lagos state NTBLCP is organizing the National Tuberculosis Testing Week for Children from May 22nd to 26th, 2023, providing free testing nationwide.