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