Current Status + Progress
Tuberculosis is now the leading cause of death from infectious diseases for children of all ages globally

Children with vulnerable immune systems, such as the very young, HIV-infected or severely malnourished, are most at risk for falling ill or dying from tuberculosis. Children with tuberculosis are often poor and living in vulnerable communities that lack access to health care. Adolescents are at particular risk of developing adult type disease, i.e., often sputum smear-positive and highly infectious.


Tuberculosis is now the leading cause of death from infectious diseases globally, with an estimated 10.4 million new cases in 2015, 1 million of which were in children under age 15. Only 39 per cent of the estimated child tuberculosis cases were notified to tuberculosis programmes, pointing to massive under- diagnosis. In 2015, some 210,000 children died of the disease (about 575 children per day). Children represent about 10 per cent of all tuberculosis cases (1). More than 67 million healthy children have latent tuberculosis infection and are at risk of developing the disease in the future,(2) and only 7 per cent of at least 1.2 million eligible children received preventive therapy in 2015.(2) Researchers estimate that more than 25,000 children develop multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis every year.

Due to their large population size, South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific accounted for the majority of new child tuberculosis cases in 2015 (63 per cent), while African regions accounted for about 30 per cent

Tuberculosis incidence among children varies widely and the largest number of cases are concentrated in Asia
Tuberculosis - estimated number of cases among children under age 15

Source: World Health Organization, Global Tuberculosis Report 2016, WHO, Geneva, 2016


Data to measure tuberculosis incidence come from countries’ routine reporting on case notification and treatment outcomes, supplemented by national tuberculosis prevalence surveys (22 of which have been conducted between 2009 and 2016).


(1) World Health Organization, ‘Global Tuberculosis Report 2016’, WHO, Geneva, 2016

(2) Dodd, Peter J., Charalambos Sismanidis, and James A. Seddon, ‘Global Burden of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Children: A mathematical modelling study’, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, October 2016


UNICEF 2017. Is Every Child Counted? Status of data for children in the SDGs. New York. 2017

Recent Resources

Change the Game: An agenda for action on childhood tuberculosis

Mar 19, 2018

As part of the Sustainable Development Goal agenda, the world has committed to ending preventable child deaths by 2030. Yet every day, nearly 700 children die from tuberculosis (TB), 80% of those before reaching their fifth birthday. Treatment exists that could prevent nearly all of these deaths, but less than 5% of the children who need it receive access.

This brochure presents key facts and figures about childhood TB  as well as an agenda to end the disease in children worldwide.

Download brochure in English

Tuberculosis Factographs

Mar 24, 2017

These factographs created for World Tuberculosis Day 2017 showcase key statistics on the devastating disease.

Factograph (treatment) | Factograph (children every day) | Factograph (care) | Factograph (South Asia, East Asia, Pacific) | Factograph (maternal & child health)