A research agenda for childhood tuberculosis
Improving the management of childhood tuberculosis within national tuberculosis programmes: research priorities based on a literature review
The new WHO Stop TB Strategy reflects the importance of the need to improve care for children with tuberculosis (TB). The aim of the Strategy is to "ensure equitable access to care of international standards for all TB patients – infectious and non-infectious, adults and children, with and without HIV, with and without drug-resistant TB" (WHO, 2006a). The new Strategy also highlights the importance of research in the global campaign to Stop TB.
Childhood TB is a neglected aspect of the TB epidemic, despite constituting 20 per cent or more of the TB case-load in many countries with high TB incidence. This "orphan disease" exists in the shadow of adult TB and is a significant child health problem, but is neglected because it is usually smear-negative and is thus considered to make a relatively minor contribution to the spread of TB.
In order to redress this neglect and integrate childhood TB into the mainstream of TB control activities, research priorities are identified that will assist in improving the prevention and management of childhood TB as part of national TB programmes (NTPs). The proposed research agenda seeks to better define childhood TB, to optimize the treatment of childhood TB and to identify the best management practices by which childhood TB can be accurately documented and recorded, and efficiently managed within NTPs.