By Haruna Gimba
The Chief Medical Director of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) Professor Edmund Banwat, has called for special attention to childhood tuberculosis so as to check the spread of the disease among adults.
He spoke at the opening of a two-day training on childhood Tuberculosis organised by West Africa Network for Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM), for physicians drawn from nine countries in the sub-region.
Banwat emphasised the need to address critical issues in the management of Tuberculosis in children, saying that an average of one million children in West Africa come down with the disease every year.
“Any childhood tuberculosis represents a new transmission. We must pay special attention to controlling the disease at that level because it is the silent reservoir of transmission to adults,” he said.
According to him, 242,000 West African children also die of the disease every year. “The figures are scary which explains the need for the urgent attention to the disease. It needs a lot of efforts in West Africa and this is a challenge we must tackle because no one will do it for us,” Prof. Banwat added.
He advised the participants to step down in their respective countries, the training they would receive during the exercise, an called for concerted efforts to manage childhood Tuberculosis because it was usually a family ailment, “when the child is infected, the entire family is at risk because we all live, play and interact with the children in the homes.”
In his speech, a Senior Fellow at the Department of Clinical Services, School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, Dr Toyin Togun said that the training would focus on the diagnosis and management of childhood tuberculosis in West Africa.
He said: “What we want to do is to train handlers of the disease to effectively tackle it and check its spread in children.
“We also want to use the meeting to establish a network of researchers across West Africa to check the spread of the disease and share experience so as to contain it collectively.”
Togun said that the disease was curable, adding that there were free drugs in all public hospitals, adding that the treatment is very efficient and the patient will be cured totally.
The physician said that the disease had a debilitating effect on children and was capable of spreading to the bones, in addition to its massive attacks on the chest, lungs and other key parts of the human anatomy.
He said that tackling the disease was very crucial because children were very vulnerable, adding that the training would also focus on tracing how a new born baby could be born with the disease.
Health Reporters gathered that 28 physicians drawn from Ghana, Benin, Mali, Togo, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria are participating in the two-day training that is being held in collaboration with the JUTH.