Kenya Launches Child friendly TB Drugs

Kenya becomes the first country in the world to launch child friendly tuberculosis (TB) drugs for children. The ministry of health on September 27, 2016, introduced a new line of treatment that will encourage children suffering from TB to take up their medication with ease as well as boost survival. Kenya is the first country to launch the drug with other countries expected to follow suit over the next three years. The new medication is a combination of three drugs used to treat TB and is fruit flavored thus appeal to children and will be offered for free as from the 1st of October 2016.

The new drug is easier to give to children as it dissolves easily in water unlike previous drugs which were big and proved difficult for children to swallow thus at times care givers and health workers were forced to crush them or mix them with food every day for a period of six months.

The production of the new drug has been spearheaded by TB Alliance which is a global non-organization which took three years. It was funded by UNITAID, a global health initiative and other partners, which gave the TB Alliance a grant of $16 million.

About a million children get infected with TB annually, which is the world’s deadliest infectious disease whereby Africa has the highest prevalence as compared to other continents which can be attributed to HIV infections, poor ventilation and poor nutrition. Cabinet secretary for Health Dr. Cleopa Mailu said, “Kenya is playing a vital role in the fight against childhood TB being the first to introduce the improved TB medicines for children”.

TB testing and treatment is free in Kenyan public health facilities but it is often under diagnosed or confused with other pediatric illnesses.

Kenya is a high burden TB country, with nearly 7,000 cases reported in infants and children in the year 2015. Children under five have the greatest risk of severe infection and death.

When TB patients do not complete their treatment, they fall ill again, often with hard-to-treat drug-resistant strains.

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