More than half of childhood tuberculosis (TB) cases are going unreported due to difficulties in diagnosing children, deputy director for Aids and Tuberculosis in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Charles Sandy has said.
Speaking to journalists during a media sensitisation meeting in Chinhoyi recently, Dr Sandy said childhood TB had been accounting for seven to eight percent of annual notifications for the past eight years.
Dr Sandy said this was against an expected burden of about 20 percent of TB in children throughout the country.
“This is a cause for concern because we are in essence missing half of the children,” he said.
Dr Sandy attributed the missed cases to difficulties in diagnosing children compared to adults, adding that the most affected age group were the 0 to 5 year olds.
“TB in children is often missed or overlooked due to difficulties surrounding diagnosis, hence you find that the most affected children are those within the 0 to 5-year-olds,” said Dr Sandy.
He said in an effort to diagnose and treat all children with tuberculosis, Government was working on improving diagnostic tests which are easier to take using non-sputum tests.
He said they were also looking forward to training community health care workers and nurses to screen TB in children. Dr Sandy said the missed cases had impacted negatively on treatment success rates of TB in children.
TB remains one of the major public health threats in Zimbabwe, with its co-infection with HIV leading to increased morbidity.