The Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) through its TB REACH Project, has introduced a new Paediatric Tuberculosis (TB) program at Chawama and Kanyama level one (1) Hospitals in Lusaka district. The program has been introduced under the project title: “Closing the gap on childhood TB in Zambia through use of targeted active case finding strategies amongst children”.
The project is expected to run for 15 months and it is aimed at improving TB case detection in children between zero (0) and 14 years by use of proven active case finding strategies specific to children.
Speaking in Lusaka, CIDRZ Director of TB programs, Dr. Monde Muyoyeta said that the Ministry of Health had granted her organization permission to go ahead with implementing the Childhood TB REACH project at Kanyama and Chawama Level one (1) Hospitals.
“We had meetings with the Medical Superintendents at both Chawama and Kanyama level one (1) hospitals, they are aware about the project and are in support of it. We will have the first meetings with the health facilities staff and the neighbourhood health committees on 20th January 2020 at Chawama and 21st January 2020 at Kanyama health facilities. Both meetings will start at 13:00 hours to 15:30 hours” Dr. Muyoyeta said.
And during introductory meetings to the project at Chawama and Kanyama facilities to health staff and neighbourhood health committees, TB Fellow Dr. Sarah Nyangu said that Childhood TB was a neglected public health problem in Zambia, no wonder it was necessary to implement the Childhood TB REACH project at the two (2) facilities.
“Zambia is among the 30 highest TB and TB/HIV burden countries. The country notifies about 38,000 TB cases a year of which only 6-8% are children. It is estimated that the country has 25,990 missing cases of TB with 20% of them being children. In 2017, TB was the fourth leading cause of death in children 0-4 years in Zambia. Children who develop severe forms of TB have increased risk of long-term sequelae and disability. The World Health Organization estimates that 15-20% of the total notification should be children in high burden TB areas. In 2017, Chawama hospital notified 1,282 TB cases, only 4% were 0-14 years old and Kanyama hospital notified 1298 TB cases, only 6% were 0-14 years old” Dr. Nyangu said.
She said that children below five (5) years old were more likely to get TB than older children and adults, with a 20% higher risk in children below two (2) years old. She further said that TB in children was common in TB endemic areas and children often got TB from their care givers.
Among the activities which the project is supposed to implement include: Increasing awareness for childhood TB thus generate demand for services, build the capacity of health care workers to diagnose and manage childhood TB, strengthen identification of active TB cases through household contact tracing, integrate TB screening in other health services e.g. Malnutrition, MCH departments, improve linkages to treatment and outcomes of children, and set up open access points to reduce on waiting time for caregivers.