Union study in Francophone Africa combats childhood TB

Childhood tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most urgent challenges facing the lung health community and is made particularly challenging from difficulties in diagnosis and the fragile immune systems of the patients.  The Union’s observational study in Francophone Africa aims to conduct a systematic investigation in the homes of TB patients, identify children at risk of contracting the disease and place them on preventive treatment.

Nurses and clinic staff in the participating health centres in four countries are surveying bacteriologically-confirmed pulmonary TB patients to find out if the patient shares a home with any children under five years of age. The healthcare workers then conduct home visits to check the children for symptoms. Children undergo standardised tests at the clinic and are further examined by a doctor if necessary.

In the first six months, 730 children have been identified, 670 have been put on preventive treatment and 24 have been diagnosed with active TB and are receiving medication. Very few of the TB patients at the clinics have opted out of participation in the study.

The preventive treatment is based on a three-month regimen using the new paediatric formulations recommended by the World Health Organization. The children with active TB are treated according to the directives of each country’s NTP.

The study, Investigated Transmission of Childhood Tuberculosis (TITI, for its initials in French), is taking place in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the Central African Republic with funding from Initiative 5%/Expertise-France.