World Leaders Must Address TB In Children To Stop ‘Human Rights Catastrophe’

Project Syndicate: The Epidemic We Must Stop Ignoring
José Luis Castro, executive director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

“…Among those [children with tuberculosis] who are fortunate enough to get the standard antibiotic treatment and have no complicating factors such as HIV, 99 percent will survive. And yet 90 percent of the children who die from TB have been deprived of treatment, and a quarter-million children will die from the disease this year alone. There are no nuances to this story: health care authorities around the world are leaving kids with TB to fate. … To be sure, individual health workers are not knowingly leaving children with TB to suffer and die. But health systems are. Globally, efforts to combat TB are under-resourced. And with more than 10 million people contracting the disease every year, funds tend to be directed toward stopping its spread. So, even though children are one of the most vulnerable patient populations, their needs are ignored, because they are less contagious. Owing to these system-level priorities, one million children are dying from a preventable, treatable condition every four years. That is a human rights catastrophe. … One hopes that world leaders will come to understand that the pediatric TB epidemic reflects widespread neglect of children’s fundamental rights, and could be dramatically curtailed with existing policy interventions. There is no longer any excuse for ignoring this scourge” (6/20).