Health experts have warned against the adverse effect of Tuberculosis on children saying they run the risk of developing severe forms of the diseases when infected.
Explaining the dangers of latent and drug-resistant TB in children, the experts emphasised the need to identify the disease early in childhood to avoid resistance to treatment.
The medics said children’s immune systems predispose them to severe forms of diseases when they are not protected and the disease not detected on time.
The experts who gave the warning at an event to announce the national conference on Tuberculosis in November said providing solutions to TB in childhood will form a major thematic area of discussions at the meeting.
Emphasizing the urgency of eradicating TB in children, the Chairman, National Committee on Childhood TB, Lawal Umar, who also chairs the National Committee on Childhood TB, under the National TB and Leprosy Control Program said efforts are now focused on identifying and preventing TB in children.
‘‘We will be deliberating on childhood drug-resistant TB as well as HIV/TB infection in children. Remember that children are still members of the community and because of their growing immune system which is not yet mature; they are most vulnerable and have more chances of progressing to severe diseases the younger they are.
‘‘The TB pandemic is not leaving children out and if you don’t control TB in children many of them may die but others will grow to develop latent TB and that is when they don’t come down with the disease but harbour the organism and keep on growing with it without manifestation until they reach adult life and some risk factor makes it manifest.
Prof Umar said though science has made the detection of TB in adults easy through some delicate technology, such innovations have not helped in detecting the disease in children.
He called on the federal government and health experts to develop the technology to detect TB in children faster.
‘‘For instance one of the technologies being deployed is the Gene Expert machine, it has improved our yield of discovering people infected but it is still not performing when it comes to the youngest category of children, that is infants and those under five years’’
Meanwhile, Dr. Bethrand Odume, the Executive Director, KNCV Nigeria said the 2021 National TB Conference will provide a platform for stakeholders to deliberate on the magnitude of COVID and other diseases on TB control in Nigeria.
‘‘It will also create an opportunity to learn lessons from experiences within and other countries, and to come up with strategies to address TB control during the current and future pandemics,’’ he said.