Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has flagged that men are at a threat to contracting Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence than women.
This was disclosed by the Senior TB/HIV Advisor Dr Samson Lanje at the Sensitization training which was held at the EGPAF premises this week.
Lanje indicated that the high prevalence of TB in 34-44 year-olds and 65-year olds makes children vulnerable and exposed leaving them at the high risk of contracting the disease.
“Children are at the risk of contracting TB because most people who are affected by the illness at the group age of 34-44 are parents and always are with their children. In the same way, if it happens that their parents die or decide to send them to their grandparents, they are also likely to be at the age group of 65 which is part of the age groups that hit hard by TB,” he said.
Lanje said there is a need for the country to improve access to knowledge on TB in rural settings, prioritize high risk groups and improve diagnostic capacity.
“Access to knowledge on TB in rural areas can be improved by engaging youth, creating and implementing focused approaches for TB care among males and older people and enhance involvement of private practitioners including pharmacies in TB diagnosis and care,” he said.
According to the Lesotho TB prevalence Survey of 2019, males carry a high burden of TB also at 849 per 100, 000 population compared to females at 327 per 100, 000 population.
“The survey identified 132 prevalent TB cases translating to a prevalence rate of 581 per 100, 000 for those 15 years and above in 2019. The survey also found out that the TB prevalence is at peak at 34-44 years of age and 65 years with rates of 1,661 per 100,000 population,” survey reads.
“The rural prevalence rate is 670 per 100,000 population, peri-urban prevalence rate is 680 per 100,000 and the urban prevalence rate 453 pre 100,000 population. The survey also disclosed that TB incidence was estimated to be 653.6 per 100,000 which was comparable to the 2018 incidence rate of 611 per 100,000 population,” survey read.
As other means to curb the rate of TB prevalence in children, EGPAF engaged in the Catalyzing Pediatric TB Innovation; CaP TB project of 2017-2021.
EGPAF TB Advisor Dr Kiuvu Patrice, indicated that the key project activities is integration of TB care in key entry points, community based household contact tracing and screening, capacity building, advocacy, communication and social mobilization and generate appropriate evidence and support normative and national policy change.
“Through the project we have participated in the review of national TB Strategic Plan and Lesotho National Guidelines for drug susceptible TB. The TB screening is effectively implemented in all the sites of the project, 555 health care workers were trained on management of childhood TB, 70 community health care workers were also trained and the project achieved in developing and implementing pediatric TB clinical diagnostic algorithm,” he said stating there are many achievements by the project.
Speaking at the same event, the Communications and Advocacy Manager ’Makopano Letsatsi shared the success stories of children that have been under the project for treatment of their TB.
“We had five years Liako (not her true name) Immaculate Berea who was first diagnosed with HIV and Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) was delayed as she was TB presumptive and was transferred to Maluti Hospital. Where she was returned twice on suspicion that she had Covid-19 and was recommended to quarantine for 14 days. The Baylor nurse was made aware of the case and decided to screen her TB. The child looked very small for her age, severely malnourished, coughing and also having difficulty in breathing with oxygen saturation of 89%.
“The nurse took the child to Maluti Hospital again and advocated for doctor evaluation and chest X-ray. She was then confirmed TB positive and the doctor admitted her. She was put on TB treatment and nutritional therapy in the hospital. She was discharged in 2 weeks with great improvement clinically and was initiated on ART after 3 weeks of TB treatment. The child has been monitored regularly and currently the child is doing great on ART and TB treatment,” she said.
Letsatsi indicated that with Covid-19 pandemic, there are indications that TB patients do not receive treatment on time as they are immediately suspected to be Covid-19 patients.
She further shared the story of six family members with TB in one Household. “The grant mother in the household is an ART defaulter, she was tracked multiple times but refused to come for her treatment. First the two months baby came with TB symptoms, was taken for X-ray and confirmed TB.
“Later 1year and 8 months babies as well as 1year and 3 months came with TB symptoms from the same house and tested positive. The health care workers went for contact tracing found the granny severely sick with TB symptoms from the same house. She was clinically diagnosed and initiated on TB treatment. Other children found at home were also confirmed to have TB by X-ray. In total, Granny and five children under 14 years had TB. All children are HIV negative and all of them completed TB treatment and are now cured,” she said.