24 August 2015
The Childhood TB Program of the Vaccines and Immunity Theme in collaboration with the National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Programme (NLTP) of The Gambia recently won a competitive grant from the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). The grant is to fund a training project tagged “TDR Child TB Impact Training Project” or “Reach4Kids Training” for short, which commenced on Friday 24th of July 2015.
Tuberculosis in children is accorded very low priority in many TB Programs’ control efforts as a result of mistaken beliefs about the size and importance of the problem, the challenges of diagnosis and poor recording of this epidemic in many TB high-burden countries. Recognising that the dream of a TB free world by the year 2050 would be futile without addressing children affected by TB, the Reach4Kids Training aims at equipping frontline health workers who regularly attend to sick children, with the knowledge, skills and confidence required to recognise and appropriately manage children at risk for Tuberculosis.
The training is led by Dr Uzochukwu Egere and consists of scientists, clinicians, nurses and field staff from the Childhood TB Program of the MRC and staff of the NLTP Gambia. Prof Beate Kampmann whose Childhood TB Program hosts the Training, also provides mentorship and strategic support to the training team. The training module is an up to date and scientifically sound material developed by the Childhood TB Program and spans the epidemiological, clinical, social and operational issues surrounding childhood TB with special emphasis on the Gambian context.
Reach4Kids Training targets Clinicians, Local leprosy/TB inspectors and other staff of TB clinics, Outpatient nurses, Reproductive and Child health staff, Community Health nurses and other healthcare workers who deal with sick children in their routine work in the Upper River, Central River, Lower River and North bank regions of The Gambia. Due to funding limitations, these areas were not covered during an initial training project of the Childhood TB team, which concentrated on health workers in the West Coast Region.
Training is delivered over 2 days as a series of didactic teachings, interactive sessions, group activities and role plays. Nearly 120 health workers have already been trained in the first round of training across the 4 regions. A second round will commence later in November and will cover other nominated health workers who could not attend the first round.
It is expected that the knowledge and skills acquired by health workers in this training will help them recognise and properly manage or refer more children sick with TB. This way, many more lives of children with TB will be saved and many more children will be prevented from having the disease in the first place. Working directly with the Government of the Gambia through the NLTP has placed this training grant in a vantage position to swiftly impact policy as the results and the impacts of the training are being shared in real time.