On Friday the 8th of May 2015, His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Swaziland, Dr Sibusiso Dlamini, officially opened the TB Centre of Excellence at Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation-Swaziland (BCMCF-SD) in Mbabane.
This TB COE will offer free and comprehensive services for any child in Swaziland with symptoms suggestive of TB including prompt test results and appropriate treatment as well as preventive latent treatment for those children with a known TB contact.
But what would all this fancy building and electronic stuff and clever doctors with lots of pills and injections mean to a sick child if there was nothing welcoming or comforting about the place? Or what if there was no money for transport to even access these lifesaving interventions?
The facts are:
- Swaziland has the highest incidence of TB in the world.
- For every 100,000 people in Swaziland, 1,382 have TB.
- 10% of these people are children.
- The risk of developing TB is five times higher in children than in adults.
- Among the 18 to 49 year old population of Swaziland, 31% are infected with HIV.
- Children – especially those under 5 years of age – are exposed to large numbers of TB bacilli where there are adults with untreated TB, yet limited screening is done.
- TB in children is difficult to diagnose as symptoms in children are not specific.
- TB in children is underdiagnosed as diagnostic tools currently available do not perform well in the case of children.
- Children have difficulty in providing adequate sputum specimens.
- Families bearing the financial burden of TB and HIV may simply not be able to afford the transport cost of multiple visits to medical facilities for sick children.
Seeing this need, The Rocking Horse Project for Paediatric Palliative Care in Swaziland, applied toThe True Colours Trust through the African Palliative Care Association for funding to decorate and furnish this TB COE to create a child-focused environment. Transport money for 35 children and their caregivers for the initial treatment period of six months based on a needs assessment, was also requested and kindly granted.
From children with TB in this beautiful Kingdom of Swaziland, thank you to the True Colours Trust and the African Palliative Care Association for caring about the small things. Especially us small people whose needs are so often overlooked