September 12th, 2014
In today’s global health efforts, we continuously highlight the plight of disease on children and remind ourselves that the needs of this population cannot be forgotten. In some areas, we have done extremely well in ensuring that young people receive the care they need to live healthy lives. For example, there has been a recent groundswell of activity around pediatric HIV, with growing awareness leading to unprecedented financial and resource commitments directed towards this important issue.
In other areas, however, we, as a global health community, have been less successful at mobilizing global support. Childhood tuberculosis (TB), in particular, is a serious problem that has received inadequate attention in international discussions. While TB more generally has garnered greater investment in recent years (due in large part to the creation of organizations like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), the specific needs of children suffering from the disease have been largely neglected. The first-ever targeted roadmap to end childhood TB deaths was only published less than a year ago.
In large part, this is because we simply didn’t know the magnitude of the problem. The results of a recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that one million children suffer from TB each year – twice the number previously thought to have TB and three times the number of children that are diagnosed.