The Ministry of Health has announced the launch of appropriately dosed, child-friendly TB medicines, making the country the first nation to roll out these products nationally. The medicines are easier to take and give and are a boost to the treatment of Tuberculosis and child survival. “Kenya is playing a leading role in the fight against childhood TB by being the first to introduce improved TB medicines for children,” said Cleopa Mailu in a statement issued on Tuesday, adding that with the appropriate treatments, rapid progress can be made when it comes to finding and treating children with Tuberculosis.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 1 million children suffer from TB each year and 140,000 children die of the disease. In 2015, Kenya reported nearly 7,000 cases of the disease in infants and children, with those under age five at greatest risk of having severe forms of TB and dying from the disease.
The treatments being introduced are the first to meet WHO guidelines for childhood Tuberculosis treatment. Even though they are not new drugs, they have improved formulations that come in the correct doses, require fewer pills, are flavored and dissolve in water. In the past, caregivers had to cut or crush multiple, bitter-tasting pills in an attempt to achieve the right doses for children.
The development of medicines was overseen by TB Alliance, an international not-for-profit organization, and was funded by UNITAID and other partners. According to the Director of Pediatric Programs for TB Alliance Dr. Cherise Scott, the new treatments will not have an impact until they reach the children that need them, and the doctor was happy with the government partnership, “We are proud to partner with the Government of Kenya, the first of many countries, as they work to translate the potential of these medicines into lives saved.”