World TB Day roundup

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This special edition of What We’re Reading highlights reports and commentary released around World TB Day (Saturday, March 24, 2012).

No More Crying, No More Dying. Towards Zero TB Deaths in Children: This issue brief from the Stop TB Partnership and the World Health Organization calls on public health programs and health care providers to change their approach to case finding by utilizing these five steps “so the world can move toward zero TB deaths among children”: start viewing childhood TB as a “family” illness; reach out to find all people affected by TB; prioritize outreach in children living with HIV; and integrate maternal and child health services, HIV care and TB care into a seamless package.

No One Should Die of Tuberculosis in the 21st Century:  Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee, a senior TB specialist at Partners in Health, and Sophie Beauvais from Harvard’s Global Health Deliver Project co-authored this Huffington Post op-ed highlighting the growing problem of drug-resistant forms of TB and suggesting some steps to conquer the problem. “One first step is for the [Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] to open the supply of quality-assured second-line TB drugs, and further work to ensure that the lowest prices are being paid as it does for malaria and HIV medicines. This would lead to more patients being treated and would also show an organizational commitment to seeing real outcomes in the battle against all forms of TB,” according to the piece.

New reference standards for TB diagnostics in children now published in JID: The Journal of Infectious Diseases has published consensus guidelines developed by leading pediatric TB experts in June 2011 at the National Institutes of Health-sponsored meeting “Critical Issues in Pediatric Tuberculosis Research in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Children.” The guidelines define clinical case definitions for intra-thoracic TB diagnosis in children and how to standardize methodological approaches for evaluation of new TB diagnostic tests in children. “With the development of these consensus guidelines and by encouraging their widespread uptake, there is no longer an excuse to continue to exclude children from TB diagnostic research. These guidelines help address the urgent need to develop tests that can work in children, ideally using non-sputum based samples, which benefit not only children but other difficult to diagnose groups such as HIV co-infected patients,” according to a piece in GHD Online.

Achieving an HIV- and TB-Free Generation: This Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) blog post in honor of World TB Day lists lesser-known facts about the links between TB and HIV, the neglected issue of pediatric TB, and TB’s link to mother-to-child transmission of HIV. For instance, “HIV-positive pregnant women are ten times more likely to contract TB, and those with TB have a greater likelihood of passing HIV on to their infants through mother-to-child transmission. TB infection also leads to a much higher mortality rate for both mothers and babies,” according to the piece. EGPAF’s regional technical officer based in Cote d’Ivoire, Dr. Serge Agbo, who coordinates TB-HIV integration in EGPAF programs, authored the post.

The Disease that Won’t Die – Tuberculosis in Peru: This photo essay in Time Magazine online shows powerful images of children in Peru who are living with or affected by tuberculosis, while giving facts of the global burden of TB. “Tuberculosis has been brought under control in much of the world, thanks to prevention practices and powerful antibiotics. But in poor nations like Peru, the disease still kills hundreds of babies and children — and new drug-resistant cases threaten an even bigger resurgence,” according to the piece.

Announcing the InnovateTB Contest: The Stop TB Partnership Working Group on New Drugs recently launched a campaign to capture stories of innovative tools, procedures or programs that are revolutionizing the field of TB.  Over the next two months they are holding a contest collecting videos, photos, and written accounts of innovations that aim to reduce TB in the world.  The deadline for entries is Saturday, May 26. All entries will be posted at www.newtbdrugs.org/intb — where at the close of submissions the general public will be asked to vote for their favorites. The winning entry will be judged on the overall message, relevance to the theme, and creativity by an expert panel comprised of InnovateTB stakeholders, according to the website.

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