Paediatric TB is an area of my personal interest. The reason is that this is a truly neglected area. Children with TB are living in shadows; hidden from the world. Their voices are not heard, their faces are not seen. They have been neglected by policy makers and physicians alike. TB in children is typically under-detected and under-reported, reflecting its low priority on the public health agenda.

And this is the most shameful fact about children with TB: Historically, TB control efforts have not focused on children because the majorities are smear-negative and therefore not a major source of infection. With limited resources, the focus was put where it seemed most critical — on adults with smear-positive TB.

In 2009, at least 1 million children became sick with TB, and approx 20% died. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 176,000 children died, but the consensus among researchers says that actual figures are higher.

At least 10-15 percent all TB cases are in children under 15 — but the percentage is probably much higher, because childhood TB is under-reported and there is no data for incidence of TB in under-fives.

We need more efforts for this area. More funding, more voices. The world must wake up- now.

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