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HEALTH, EGPAF LAUNCH CAP TB PROJECT

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) on Wednesday launched a four-year Catalising Pediatric TB(CaP TB).

The Project supported by Unitaid to reduce morbidity and mortality is being implemented in nine sub-Saharan African countries of Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe as well as India with the hope to result in an increase in pediatric TB case detection by two-fold.

In Lesotho, it targets diagnosis of approximately 1,100 children with TB, treatment of approximately 1, 000 children with TB as well as initiation of over 7, 000 children on preventive TB treatment.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of health at the launching ceremony, the Director General Health Services, Dr 'Nyane Letsie applauded EGPAF for bringing such an excellent initiative to save children's lives as TB in children is often missed or overlooked due to difficulties surrounding diagnosis, saying many programmes on TB have focused on adults and that very little was done on children despite the fact that such children are living in the same homes with adult TB patients.

“According to World Health Organisation estimates, an estimated one million children became ill with TB and 250, 000 children died of TB in 2016,” Dr Letsie said, adding that the number includes 52, 000 children with HIV associated TB.

She however noted that the actual burden of TB in children is likely higher, given the challenge in diagnosing childhood TB hence stressed that the launch of Cap TB project comes at an opportune time when also commemorating the 2018 World TB Day while it also brings together various stakeholders in enhancing provision of HIV and TB services for the children.

She thus noted that her Ministry cannot end TB in children alone, but in collaboration with partners in achieving the goal of zero TB in children.

By the same token, EGPAF's President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Charles Lyons remarked that as defenders of children's health, EGPAF is deeply troubled by how the TB epidemic impacts children and families hence their commitment to help find and implement innovative and effective solutions.

Mr. Lyons said as an organisation that focuses primarily on pediatric HIV and AIDS, EGPAF recognises the strategic importance of the CaP project with respect to ending both epidemics because fighting both diseases simultaneously and integrating responses to the epidemics is critical if they are to deliver on the promise they have made to defeat them.

'To do so, EGPAF will work with the Ministry of Health and Untiaid over the next four years to implement the CaP Innovation Project,' he said, adding that through the project, the Ministry of Health and EGPAF will dramatically increase access to new child-friendly drugs for pediatric and that in addition to sub-optimal medications, timely and accurate diagnosis has been a major challenge in fighting pediatric TB.

Meanwhile, the TB Programme Manager, Dr Llang Maama gave an overview of Lesotho's TB Epidemiology, in which she said Lesotho is a high burden country despite subscribing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the End TB Strategy.

She added that the treatment success rate is such that they have not been up to standard hence emphisising the need to do more studies on why more people die of TB whilst also scaling up integrated TB and HIV collaborative activities by keeping TB Dots open to address low treatment success since low risk groups include children.

She also stressed the need to strengthen Lesotho's systems with regard to TB control, commending the project's recognition of the challenge to improve the turnaround strategy for early TB detection in children.

As part of the launch activities, a youth group performed drama which demonstrated ways of collaborative ways to control and end TB on a multifaceted platform while a demonstration was also made to show how a sputum induction device of an ultrasonic nebuliser operates to extract a sputum specimen from a child for TB detection.

 

Source: LENA 07/03/2018

 

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