Kerala

‘Test-and-treat’ to tackle TB in kids

Children aged below 15 constitute 5% of the total number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the State. The Health Department is planning to launch a ‘test-and-treat’ approach and preventive therapy for them from next month.

The initiative is part of the recently launched Akshaya Keralam project, the third phase of a drive to eliminate TB by 2025, according to the State TB cell.

As many as 15,307 cases have been diagnosed between January and September this year and 968 people died. The corresponding figures for 2019 were 25,248 and 1,821, respectively.

Sources at the cell claimed that 561 of the 1,034 local self-government institutions had not reported a single case of paediatric TB in 2019. Average annual decline in childhood TB cases from 2009 to 2019 had been 7.5% .

Drop in drug sale

Paediatric anti-TB drug sale had a steeper decline. Pharmaceuticals reported a dip in the sale of kid formulations by 90% from 2006 to 2019.

The preventive therapy is meant to reduce it further, they pointed out. This is expected to prevent 1,000 children getting TB every year in the State. The Kerala branch of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics is a partner in the venture.

Meanwhile, the officials said that TB elimination efforts had faced some trouble after the spread of COVID-19. Fear of transmission of the infection to lab technicians through TB sputum examination, stigma to cough, and difficulty in accessing suspected patients were some of the issues.

Advisory issued

An advisory was issued for ensuring TB care in April. Laboratories were equipped with bio-safety equipment, and instruments for molecular tests like Truenat and Xperts which could test both TB and COVID-19 were additionally purchased. Bidirectional screening for TB and COVID were put in place, the officials said.

Following this, an estimated 1,500 cases were found to have missed diagnosis. The Akshaya Keralam project is an attempt to find out all those through a catch-up campaign. The search is for cases among vulnerable individuals at their homes along with reverse quarantine efforts in coordination with care for the elderly and palliative care.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:38:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/test-and-treat-to-tackle-tb-in-kids/article32874838.ece

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