Determining the Pediatric TB Burden
A major historical challenge in tackling childhood TB has been understanding the scope of the problem.
TB Alliance coordinated with partners to improve the accuracy of estimates of the number of children suffering TB. As expected, global estimates were subsequently adjusted higher, establishing to product manufacturers that the market was larger than previously assumed.
Many experts believe that the estimated demand for childhood TB treatments is too low. This is because diagnosing TB in children is challenging, so many cases go unreported and uncounted. But, the under-reporting of TB cases in children isn’t just an academic shortcoming, there are serious consequences to this. If manufacturers feel that there isn’t sufficient demand for a product, they may not produce that product. In fact, after the World Health Organization revised the dosing guidelines for children in 2010, manufacturers did not respond, so products in the new doses were not produced. This led to children receiving suboptimal treatment, and difficulty for parents and health care providers attempting to treat children.
Accurately quantifying the size of the market and burden of disease among children helps not only manufacturers, both global health advocates, political figures, and other stakeholders understand the real demand for pediatric TB treatment.
Working with WHO and others, TB Alliance has helped compile and publish several resources on this topic.
Burden of childhood tuberculosis in 22 high-burden countries: a mathematical modelling study (The Lancet Global Health)