The Union’s Child and Adolescent Tuberculosis Centre of Excellence is a virtual network of tuberculosis (TB) professionals and organisations in the sub-Sahara Africa region, providing a community of learning and practice for childhood and adolescent TB. It currently covers Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Eswatini, Zimbabwe.
This network, coordinated by The Union’s Uganda Office in collaboration with the Global TB Branch in the Division of HIV and TB, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), offers technical leadership, capacity building, south to south learning opportunities and promotes collaboration across the region.
In 2013, the World Health Organization, CDC, UNICEF, The Union and other global health groups released the Roadmap for Childhood Tuberculosis. The Roadmap describes how standard TB diagnostic tests are not designed for children, leaving many undiagnosed, making diagnosis even more of a challenge, children often don’t develop the same characteristic TB symptoms that adults do. Adolescence is also recognised as an age with increased risk of infection and disease due to TB, but with a much greater risk of transmission compared to young children with TB, especially in older adolescents (15-19 years). Due to reporting practices dividing adolescent TB notifications within age groups of 5-14 years and 15-24 years, the true burden of disease in adolescents is uncertain.
The goal of the Centre of Excellence is to pursue the bold vision of the Childhood TB Roadmap over the next five years by bridging the policy-practice gap and fostering partnerships across the region to improve and expand interventions to end child and adolescent TB.
The Union has provided global leadership to address the neglected needs of child and adolescent TB for more than a decade, and has been at the forefront of activities that have greatly increased attention to child TB over the last five years.
The Child and Adolescent TB Centre of Excellence was created based on the need to develop, strengthen and support regional networks for child and adolescent TB, with the initial focus on the sub-Saharan African region, which has a high burden of child and adolescent TB and HIV and a high TB-related mortality.
The Centre of Excellence has also constituted an Advisory Committee with organisational representatives from The Union, CDC, Baylor College of Medicine, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Stop TB Partnership, Unitaid, USAID Head Quarters in Washington, WHO HQ, WHO Africa Regional Office, civil society representative, UNICEF and Dr. Jeffrey Starke from Texas Children's Hospital and Dr. Anneke Hesseling from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre as individual members.