Kenya rolls out new child-friendly TB drugs
28 September 2016, 08:43
Nairobi - Children suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) will now have access to child-friendly medicines as Kenya became the first country in the world to roll out the new drugs on Tuesday.
The new treatment, known as fixed dose combination, has been infused with strawberry flavours to make it sweet and therefore palatable to children.
The combination drugs are administered by dissolving them in water making it easier to administer and drink. Previously, the TB treatment regimen was complex to both caregivers and patients alike. Caregivers had to break or crush 10 bitter-tasting pills in order to achieve the ‘right’ daily doses, making the six-month treatment period especially tough for children and arousing cases of non-compliance which led to emergence of multi resistant tuberculosis.
“Some parents have been forced to mix the ‘githeri-like’ concoction of pills in a TB-infected child’s food to ensure compliance – but that uphill task is now long gone,” said Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko during the launch of the new drugs in Nairobi.
Ministry of Health announced that the new treatments will be given for free in over 9,000 health facilities across the country beginning October 1.
In 2016, World Health Organization prequalified the use of improved child-friendly medicines for treatment of TB in children.
The new TB drugs were developed by the TB Alliance and its partners through the support of UNITAID and USAID.
According to the WHO, over one million children suffering from TB annually, 140,000 die from the preventable and curable disease.
TB still remains a major public health problem in Kenya and significantly contributes to the high morbidity and mortality among children. In 2015, Kenya reported 81,518 cases of Tuberculosis, 8.5% cases being children.
TB is also the 4th leading cause of death in Kenya. The high prevalence of TB in Kenya is attributed to HIV, poor ventilation, over-crowding, and poor nutrition.
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