Drug-resistant TB higher among children than expected: report: 

Drug-resistant TB higher among children than expected: report


Context

It has emerged that Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB is higher among children than expected.

What is the issue?

  • Many children tested in nine Indian cities have been diagnosed with TB.
  • Nine per cent of these paediatric TB cases have been diagnosed to have MDR TB, according to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) that conducted the tests.

What is Drug-resistant TB?

  • Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of tuberculosis (TB) infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB medications (drugs).
  • Resistant strains of TB are already present in the population, so MDR-TB can be directly transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person.
  • Because MDR tuberculosis is an airborne pathogen, persons with active, pulmonary tuberculosis caused by a multidrug-resistant strain can transmit the disease if they are alive and coughing.
  • Treatment of MDR-TB requires treatment with second-line drugs, usually four or more anti-TB drugs for a minimum of 6 months, and possibly extending for 18–24 months if rifampin resistance has been identified in the specific strain of TB with which the patient has been infected.

About the Initiative

  • The aim of the project is to provide rapid access to quality TB diagnosis for all presumptive paediatric TB patients in the project intervention areas.
  • In 2016, the proportion of children among new TB patients reported was 6%. Absence of appropriate samples coupled with decentralised capacity to get good samples from children to test for TB remains a challenge in paediatric TB case detection.

Outcomes

  • TB diagnosis in children is complicated due to challenges associated with sample collection and poor sensitivity of tests like the Acid fast bacilli (AFB) smear.
  • FIND, through this project, has collaborated with the Central TB Division to improve access to more sensitive diagnostic tools like the GeneXpert in the paediatric population.
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