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Advancing Tuberculosis Eradication: Researchers at MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM Highlight TB Complications in Children and Adolescents

Lung function measurement in a child after tuberculosis treatment

Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent globally, surpassing the combined toll of HIV and COVID-19. Researchers at the MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) recently published a commentary in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine focusing on "Tuberculosis complications in children and adolescents," coinciding with World Tuberculosis (TB) Day 2024. 

World TB Day, observed annually on March 24th, commemorates Dr. Robert Koch's discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882. The day serves to raise public awareness about TB and its health implications, particularly the significant number of individuals grappling with long-term complications post-treatment. Such complications often necessitate frequent hospital visits, impacting individuals' quality of life.

This year's World TB Day theme, "Yes! We can end TB," underscores the collective effort needed to achieve zero TB cases and deaths. Dr Esin Nkereuwem, Clinical Research Fellow with the Vaccines and Immunity Theme at MRCG and first author of the commentary said: “Millions of children and adolescents are successfully treated for TB each year, but many of them continue to suffer from the debilitating after-effects of the disease for the rest of their lives. While preventing TB is important, it is equally important not to forget those who are already suffering from its consequences.”

Dr Toyin Togun, Co-Director of LSHTM’s TB Centre and the last/senior author of the commentary, said: "Meeting the End TB Strategy targets, and ultimately the Sustainable Development Goal 3, will require new ways of doing things including strong and sustained collaboration between researchers, policymakers and TB advocacy organisations. However, we must not forget or leave behind the millions of children who suffer from TB and its debilitating physical and social consequences."

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