Where is TB in maternal & child health? September 7-9, 2016

Introduction

Welcome to this three-day discussion on tuberculosis (TB) in the context of maternal and child health (MNCH). This seminar was co-facilitated by UNICEF and USAID’s Bureau for Africa, through its African Strategies for Health (ASH) project. Read the full summary of the seminar here.

TB is a preventable and curable disease. Yet with 1.5 million deaths per year, it is now the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease. Children, especially those under the age of five, are most vulnerable to TB. But only about one third of the estimated annual one million cases of TB among children aged 0-14 years are ever diagnosed, and over 136,000 children die from TB each year. Over 7.5 million children become infected with TB each year, and without preventive therapy they form an ever-growing pool of TB disease in years to come.

Children affected by TB can be found in households and communities affected by TB. Once sick, they present to primary care/MNCH services with signs and symptoms of common childhood illness such as cough, weight loss and malnutrition. A few simple questions can help to determine a child’s risk for TB and initiate referral and/or diagnostic workup, yet too often this does not happen.

During recent years, a global initiative has emerged to emphasize the importance of childhood TB and to explore how to more closely integrate TB programming and MNCH services, and how to move away from vertical TB programs towards comprehensive, patient-centred care, especially at the community and primary care level.

But this discussion has mainly taken place within the TB community and the voices of the MNCH and primary care community are urgently needed to define mutual benefits, share responsibility, and define the way forward.

The purpose of this seminar is to find a common language and answer questions about how to utilise the potential of primary health care/MNCH services in preventing, diagnosing and managing childhood TB.

Please join us for this lively online discussion – we look forward to learning together!