Childhood tuberculosis in the Kilimanjaro region: lessons from and for the TB programme

Mtabho CM, Irongo CF, Boeree MJ, Aarnoutse RE, Kibiki GS. Trop Med Int Health. 2010 May;15(5):496-501. Epub 2010 Mar 8. TMIH
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To determine the magnitude of childhood TB and treatment outcome in Kilimanjaro region. Methods: Retrospective review of registration-based data on TB notifications in Kilimanjaro region for the period 2002-2006. RESULTS: Between 2002 and 2006, there were 1615 patients of childhood TB in Kilimanjaro region constituting 13% of total TB burden and the average case detection rate was 147/100 000 for urban and 41.8/100 000 for rural populations. Of them, 54.2% were men and 75.2% had pulmonary TB (PTB); 24.9% were tested for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) by Ziehl-Neelsen staining showing that 5.8% of all patients with TB were AFB smear positive. The remaining 94.2% were presumptively treated for TB. Treatment success rate was 79.9%, mortality 10.9% and default rate was 7%. Unfavourable outcome was more common among unconfirmed TB patients. HIV testing was very rare but increased after 2004 (<2% before 2005, 11-16% afterwards.) Conclusion: The rate of childhood TB in Kilimanjaro region is among the highest in the world. Microbiological diagnosis for TB and AFB smear positivity is very low. Treatment outcome in this region is poor. These findings argue for specific TB control strategies to be designed for children such as more AFB testing using new tools such as induced sputum and laryngeal swabs, active case finding, HIV testing of all suspected TB children, promoting and monitoring adherence. Regular epidemiological studies are also needed.