O&M Medical School (O&Med) held its monthly meeting on Friday, March 31, 2017. On this occasion, several specialists from the health area addressed the topic "Pediatric Tuberculosis: generalities and specifications on current care, diagnosis and treatment."

In this opportunity, our guest specialists were Dr. Ricardo Elías Melgen, Robert R. Cabral Children Hospital Director and Diana Torres, Pediatrician, Director of Medical Education at Marcelino Vélez Santana Hospital

During his dissertation, Dr. Melgen explained that in the country, there should be six thousand cases (6,000) detected each year but, in 2015 for example, only four thousand and six hundred (4,600) were diagnosed.

Dr. Melgen also informed that "in children, world statistics indicate, 8% of the cases should be diagnosed from the total cases reported per year, but in the country, only between 3 and 5 percent are diagnosed per year".

He added that behind every child with tuberculosis, there is a sick adult who possibly transmitted the disease, which requires a treatment that lasts several months to cure the disease. 

He stated that when the doctor receives an adult with tuberculosis, he must explain the patient that a preventive checkup is necessary for his children to avoid them to get infected and, if they are infected, to treat them in time to prevent its progress before there are long-term consequences.

He explained that according to a study conducted at the Robert R. Cabral Children Hospital, it takes about five months to diagnose pediatric patients with tuberculosis, taking as reference from the moment they feel the first symptoms until they undergo an evaluation.

Dr. Melgen urged the population to go to a health center immediately as soon as they feel the symptoms and also said that tuberculosis is a disease that accompanies the human being since its inception, because it lives in the community.

"More people die from tuberculosis than from AIDS and Malaria. There are 10 million cases of tuberculosis in the world per year, and from that population, 1.8 million people die," Dr. Melgen informed at the breakfast.

He said that in the Dominican Republic, there are still many cases of tuberculosis and, at the same time, inability to detect and diagnose the disease. He emphasized that the country is among the 10 nations with high tuberculosis cases.

"There are cases that last up to three years to be diagnosed," he said after indicating that an adult with tuberculosis should be subjected to contact studies to ensure they do not infect children.

On the other hand, Dr. Torres pointed out that elder, children, and patients with underlying diseases are more susceptible to becoming infected with tuberculosis, because they are more vulnerable.

She said that treatment in these cases should be followed for several months to be effective, although she acknowledged that there are many complications to detect tuberculosis in children.

The lunch was moderated by Dr. Eddy Pérez-Then, Director of O&Med, who facilitated the discussion between panelists and O&Med students, and emphasized about the need to design research protocols on developing diagnostic algorithms and improving case identification to prevent the spread of the disease in the community.