4 June 2018
The Ministry of Health and Child Care in partnership with Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and Unitiad’s launched a four-year project that seeks to accelerate diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis in children.
The Catalyzing Paediatric Tuberculosis Innovation (CAP TB) aims to diagnose about 1400 children, provide treatment on 1300 children and initiate over 9000 children with latent TB on preventive TB treatment.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health and Child Care at the launch of the CAP TB, Permanent Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said TB programs should not leave out children.
“TB in children is often missed or over looked due to difficulties surrounding diagnosis,” he said.
“Many programs or projects to combat TB often focused on adults and very little has been done for children despite the fact that children are living in same homes with adult TB patient.
“Children with TB can be treated, go back to school, have a normal development and realise their full potential.
“Investments in childhood health are acknowledged as investments in growth, productivity and security and will go a long way in reducing poverty since TB exerts its greatest toll on the poor.”
He also said important health problems cannot be addressed by health sector alone but can be done in partnership with other sector.
“Major health problems such as TB cannot be effectively addressed by the health sector alone, it is clear that we need to work in partnership across all sectors to effectively respond to pediatric TB and other health issues that have such significant bearing on survival and sustainable development,” he said.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is committed to creating a conducive policy and regulatory environment for pediatric TB and sustain scale up innovation models of pediatric TB care and treatment.
The Minister also said diagnosis of infectious diseases can create a unique opportunity to the children.
“Diagnosis of HIV provides a unique opportunity to make a difference to childhood HIV and tuberculosis and thus promote sustainable development,” he said.
“According to WHO, an estimated one million children became ill with TB and 25000 children died of TB in 2016, however the actual burden of a TB in children is likely higher given the challenge in diagnosing childhood TB.
“In order to combat the disease in children, WHO and its partners have come up with a strategy to meet the goal of zero TB deaths among children worldwide, achieving this goal, requires sustained advocacy, greater commitment, mobilization of increased resources and a joint effort by all stakeholders involved in proving health care for children and in TB control.
Tuberculosis is the second leading cause of death in Zimbabwe and children are the most vulnerable and often lag behind adults in accessing quality care and treatment.