Lesotho Ministry of Health, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Unitaid launch project to scale up diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis in children
EMBARGOED UNTIL MARCH 7, 2018: CONTACTS: Makopano Letsatsi; firstname.lastname@example.org or +266 589 09893
Maseru, Lesotho—March 7, 2018—Today, the Lesotho Ministry of Health launched a project to curb childhood illnesses and deaths due to tuberculosis (TB).
The four year project, called Catalyzing Pediatric Tuberculosis Innovation (CaP TB), is funded by Unitaid and implemented by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). The initiative aims to double detection of TB in children and treat 1,100 children for TB. More than 7,000 children with latent TB, who are infected without developing symptoms, will be initiated on preventive TB treatment through the project.
TB is preventable and curable. Yet it is still the second leading cause of death after AIDS in Lesotho and is a dangerous opportunistic infection for people living with HIV. Only 46 percent of all TB cases were diagnosed in 2016 in Lesotho. And while it is expected that 10 to 15 percent of all diagnosed cases in a high TB incidence country such as Lesotho should be pediatric, only 3 percent of Lesotho’s TB diagnoses were in children.
TB is particularly difficult to diagnose in children since many do not have access to the most effective tests and treatments. Often, children with TB will go undiagnosed and be ineffectively treated for many other ailments. Worse, if exposed, children are more likely to develop active TB, and are at higher risk of death than adults. This is especially true for children with compromised immune systems due to young age, malnutrition, or HIV infection. Many more children are infected with latent TB, and without proper diagnosis and treatment, are at higher risk than adults to develop active TB.
Previously, a lack of adequate pediatric medicines made treatment of children a complex process. Increasing the availability of newly developed child-friendly drug formulations will be a critical component to achieving these prevention and treatment goals.
Through the CaP TB project, EGPAF will build on its existing work and partnerships with the government and local organizations to increase access to innovative diagnostic technology and new child-friendly formulations for improved pediatric TB diagnosis, services, and treatment.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with both the government of Lesotho and Unitaid and go beyond our work in HIV prevention and treatment services, to address the longstanding challenges associated with identifying and treating TB in children. Through CaP TB, I am confident that we can reduce the burden of childhood TB and give children in Lesotho a brighter future,” said Charles Lyons, EGPAF President and CEO.
The new project will focus its work in 40 high-TB burden sites across five districts of Lesotho.
About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF)
EGPAF is the global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV/ AIDS and has reached more than 27 million pregnant women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. Founded in 1988, EGPAF today supports activities in 19 countries and over 5,000 sites to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute global advocacy activities that bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide. For more information, visit www.pedaids.org
Unitaid is an international organization that invests in new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and malaria more quickly, more affordably and more effectively. It accelerates access to innovation so that critical health products can reach the people who most need them. Unitaid’s work facilitates large-scale introduction of health products through funding by the Global Fund, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and by governments. For more information, visit www.unitaid.org