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Officials Launch Ambitious Plan to Stop TB in Kids Worldwide

Update Date: Oct 03, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

With an ambitious plan health officials have shifted their focus on wiping out tuberculosis in children throughout the world. Another fact is that the officials are not sure about the number of cases though.

Experts say the reason of overlooking children below age 15 is that there isn’t any reliable diagnostic test yet. Also the common symptoms of tuberculosis are similar to those of many other childhood illness. Since tuberculosis in children won't spread, it has not been considered a major public health problem.

“We think that in some regions, up to 90% of children with TB are not being reported,” said Steve Graham of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

The laid out plan identifies 10 priorities. This includes treating children preventively in case family members already have that disease.

TB is curable bacterial disease which usually spreads by sneezing or by coughing. Children do not cough strongly to pass on the bacteria.

In terms of cost, the laid out plan is of $120 million per year.

WHO estimates that TB infects about 500,000 children every year killing approximately 74,000. However eveyone did not seem happy with the approximate figures. 

“It is unacceptable practice to use numbers without any credibility,” said William Easterly, an economics professor at New York University.

“To say they are going to try to reduce the number of cases they can’t measure to zero is absurd,” he later added.

Other experts believe that it will be better if the move faster in terms of correcting the past neglect of childhood.

“Why should we be waiting another seven years before including children?” questioned Ruth McNerney, a TB expert at the London School of Hygiene.

TB is the second leading killer among infectious diseases after AIDS.

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