Mmegi on Wednesday examined tuberculosis treatment and prevention efforts among children in Botswana. About 10% of people with TB in the country are children younger than age 14, according to Mmegi. According to Loeto Mazhani, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, 64% of children with TB live in the districts of Francistown, Gantsi, Kgalagadi North and Okavango. Reported TB incidence in Botswana increased from 202 cases per 100,000 people in 1989 to 602 cases per 100,000 people last year.
Mazhani said children usually get TB through someone coughing who already has TB in their sputum. Laura Martindale, a community health specialist in D'Kar, Botswana, said children often contract TB in low-income homes, where "people tend to live in cramped spaces with children."
The health ministry recommends DOTS for the treatment of the disease. Mazhani said the success of DOTS "depends very much on the support of the caregiver who may be the parents or guardians," adding that the drug regimen has been "very successful" when school teachers observe children being treated. Mazhani said that parents should adopt "early health-seeking behavior" and actively try to prevent the transmission of TB to children.
The health ministry also recommends the BCG vaccine and a similar preventive therapy for mothers with TB who breast-feed. The vaccination is provided at no cost to children in Botswana, Mazhani said.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation