Bangladesh has the 6th highest burden of TB in the world. Despite many improvements in diagnosis and management of TB, children with TB remain undiagnosed and undertreated. An estimated 21,000 children with TB go undetected annually.
In Bangladesh, most TB health infrastructure caters to an adult population. There is a strong focus on sputum based testing which many children cannot perform. Children present with “non-specific clinical manifestations” which cause difficulties in diagnosis and require more resource intensive and complex lab testing. These concerns coupled with lack of training of medical staff – prevent children with TB from getting diagnosed and treated.
IRD Bangladesh funded through Challenge TB and in collaboration with the National TB Program are piloting a new program specifically designed for children with TB at 6 public hospitals in Dhaka and Sylhet. This program focuses on proactively identifying TB symptoms through screening at OPDs, linking children and caretakers to appropriately trained medical officers and enabling access to diagnostic and TB treatment. Innovative mobile health technology and electronic medical record systems will be deployed to ensure accurate patient follow up and data quality. Tailored communication tools which include animated videos for both children and parents are being developed for counseling and treatment management.
The program aims to find 4500 children with presumptive TB and link diagnosed patients to appropriate care and support in 2017.