Lack of awareness delays TB treatment for kids: Study

Lack of awareness about symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB) and a delay in approaching experts are the reasons for the increase in new paediatric TB cases, say experts.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Chennai

According to a study published in the International Journal of Lung and Tuberculosis disease in May this year, it was found that families of patients take, on an average, a minimum of a few weeks up to almost a year before they approach a healthcare provider for treatment. 
Stating that parents try to treat their children at home first, Dr Murugan, a pulmonologist at Madras Medical College and a Tuberculosis expert said, “When parents see the symptoms, instead of going to a good hospital, they go to a local practitioner who gives them drugs for a few days. When symptoms prevail, they try their luck with another doctor, who may not necessarily screen the child.” 
By the time they finally go to a hospital, the disease would have reached an advanced stage. It would have spread to other people as well. “Once you identify the symptoms, according to the National guidelines, you should visit a doctor within two weeks. In the case of a child, it is more important as it might cause more damage within the system,” added Dr Murugan. With the National TB programme not taking the initiative to reach out to the public, through camps or awareness programmes, some cases tend to be missed. 
“The only way in which TB can be prevented is by identifying patients and treating them early. As far as the National TB Programme is concerned, those who have symptoms, should undergo screening whether they have the disease or not,” said a Scientist at the National Institute for Tuberculosis Research at Chetpet. 
In a recent report, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research, said if there is a delay in diagnosing TB in children, the disease could spread and cause damage. The brain might get affected, especially if it affects the neurological system.  She also said that though most childhood TB is not infectious, a delay in diagnosis could put other children in school, family and home at risk.

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