- Title: Kenya launches child-friendly Tuberculosis drugs
- Date: 4th October 2016
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA (FILE) (REUTERS) STREET SCENES VARIOUS OF KIBERA SLUM GIRL WALKING IN ALLEY TRASH IN DRAIN
- Embargoed: 19th October 2016 11:20
- Keywords: Kenya Nairobi TB Tuberculosis medicine child-friendly disease WHO
- Location: NAIROBI, KENYA
- City: NAIROBI, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA00352LAXCR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
More children are likely to survive tuberculosis, the leading infectious disease killer, after Kenya introduces child-friendly medicines on October 01, the first country in the world to do so.
Some 155,000 children with TB are set to benefit across 18 countries that have already ordered the new medicines and are preparing to roll them out, starting with Kenya, according to the TB Alliance campaign group that oversaw their development.
Kenya became the first country to announce the launch the new child friendly TB drug on Tuesday (September 27) at an event marked in the capital.
Doctor Immaculate Kathure is the child TB services co-ordinator, at Kenya's National TB Program.
"These formulations were approved by WHO (World Health Organization) for use late last year and as a country we were actually expectantly waiting for them because we knew the challenges that we were going through with our children, and so when the announcement was made we got together as a country together with our stakeholders and the commodity team, we looked at our pipelines, we looked at registering these commodities in the country, we got the ball rolling early this year, and we said, no later than the first of October every child or treatment for TB should be able to access the best that there is," she said.
TB killed 140,000 children and 1.37 million adults in 2014 and infected a further one million children, World Health Organization (WHO) data shows, but a lack of market incentives hindered the development of drugs for children, the TB Alliance said.
TB is spread by bacteria when someone with untreated TB, often a family member, coughs or sneezes. Children who survive can become blind, deaf, paralyzed or mentally disabled. It is spread through close contact with infected people in confined spaces and infected people easily propel thousands of germ-carrying droplets into the air around them.
The improved formulations come in the correct doses for children, are fruit-flavored and dissolve in water, making them easier for children to take.
Previously, caregivers had to cut or crush multiple, bitter-tasting pills to give children the correct dose every day for six months, contributing to treatment failure and death.
The child-friendly drugs are the first products to meet the WHO's 2010 guidelines for childhood TB treatment, with funding from UNITAID, which is hosted by the WHO.
When TB patients do not complete their treatment, they fall ill again, often with hard-to-treat drug-resistant "superbug" strains that are rapidly gaining a foothold globally.
"Feeding children is an uphill task, feeding children who are sick is even a more uphill task, so mixing the medicine with food meant that if the food was not eaten, then the medicine was not taken. That meant that children were getting inaccurate doses. Sometimes they would get overdose when a little more was used, or they are not too sure of how much they have put, so they have to add some more, and as a result we were not getting very good consistency in terms of treatment outcomes. We were losing children because they were not adequately treated, and some were actually going ahead and developing drug resistant TB," said Doctor Kathure.
"We know that drug resistant TB is a huge problem and that is why organizations like the TB alliance are developing new drugs and new regimens to fight drug resistance and we want to make sure that these products get into the hands and are developed for children as well as we move forward," said Doctor Cherise Scott, the director of paediatric programs at TB Alliance.
TB testing and treatment is free in Kenyan public health facilities but it is often under diagnosed or confused with other paediatric illnesses.
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