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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2002 May;6(5):424-31.

Childhood tuberculosis in Malawi: nationwide case-finding and treatment outcomes.

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National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Community Health Science Unit, Lilongwe, Malawi.

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  • Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 2002 Jun;6(6):556.



All 43 non-private hospitals (three central, 22 [corrected] district and 18 [corrected] mission) in Malawi that register and treat adult and paediatric TB cases.


To assess the rate, pattern and treatment outcome of childhood TB case notifications in Malawi in 1998.


Retrospective data collection using TB registers, treatment cards and information from health centre registers. Information was collected on number of cases, types of TB and treatment outcomes using standardised definitions.


There were 22,982 cases of TB registered in Malawi in 1998, of whom 2,739 (11.9%) were children. Children accounted for 1.3% of all case notifications with smear-positive pulmonary TB (PTB), 21.3% with smear-negative PTB and 15.9% with extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB). Estimated rates of TB in children were 78/ 100,000 in those aged less than one year, 83/100,000 in those aged 1-4 years and 33/100,000 in those aged 5-14 years. A significantly higher proportion of TB cases was diagnosed in central hospitals. Only 45% of children completed treatment. There were high rates of death (17%), default (13%) and unknown treatment outcomes (21%). Treatment outcomes were worse in younger children and in children with smear-negative PTB. Treatment completion was best (76%) and death rates lowest (11%) for the 127 children with smear-positive PTB.


Childhood TB is common in Malawi and treatment outcomes are poor. Research should be directed towards improved diagnosis and follow-up of children with TB, and the National TB Programme should support appropriate management of childhood contacts of smear positive PTB cases.

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