The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that children account for around 500,000 new cases of TB annually worldwide, and that up to 74,000 children die from TB each year. In South Africa, approximately 15-20% of all TB cases occur in children, and TB is among the top five underlying causes of death in children under 15 years of age. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest TB burden in the country: 9,691 cases of TB in children under five years were reported in 2011, representing 8 percent of the total number of TB cases recorded at that time.
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Health (PDOH), with leadership from Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for health Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, recognised an urgent need to address TB in children. In order to achieve this, the PDOH partnered with the Departments of Social Development and Basic Education and the TB CARE II South Africa Project to initiate a provincial project specifically focused on combating TB in children. The campaign, known as ‘Tackling TB in Schools’, was formally launched in October 2015 at Ethekwini Primary School. The campaign targets schools located in identified TB hotspots and is aimed at contributing to the ongoing national Massive TB Screening Campaign.