TOBIAS HOFSÄSS

Childhood TB

I travelled to Brasov, Romania together with a team of experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The task was to do a documentary in a TB clinic for children. The children are living in the hospital and undergoing medical treatment for at least 6 months. Some of them have lost their parents or siblings to tuberculosis. The clinic becomes their new home.  One of the older girls takes on the role of mother. She watches, protects and cares for them. The youngest still dance and play as all children do, however they have to be grown up to swallow down adult-formulated antibiotics every day. The children were open and curious, taking an active part in my photography.

TB is still a significant problem in the European Union. The number of childhood TB cases reached at least 40,000 cases over the last decade.

Children with tuberculosis (TB) are usually not given high priority in national TB control programmes despite increasing recognition that they are a vulnerable and important group. Children suffer severe TB related illness that contributes significantly to the overall burden of TB and potentially to overall child mortality. Worldwide, about 1 million TB cases occur each year in children (under 15 years of age).

The story of the children of Brasov highlights the importance for specific research and programmes to combat childhood TB.

This mission was funded by the Stop TB programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with ECDC.