27 September 2016 (Nairobi, Kenya)
Today the TB Alliance in partnership with Kenya Ministry of health, UNITAID and others launched new formulations for childhood tuberculosis (TB) in Kenya, marking the first national roll out of these products. These medicines are easier for caregivers to give and for children to take, and are expected to help improve treatment and child survival from TB.
Tuberculosis still remains a major killer of children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 1 million children suffer from TB each year and 140,000 children die of this preventable, treatable, and curable disease. In 2015, Kenya reported nearly 7,000 cases of TB in infants and children, with those under age five at greatest risk of having severe forms of TB and dying from the disease.
Previously, caregivers had to cut or crush multiple, bitter-tasting pills in an attempt to achieve the right doses for children. This made the six-month treatment journey difficult for children and their families, contributing to treatment failure and death from the disease. The treatments now being introduced are the first to meet WHO guidelines for childhood TB treatment. They are not new drugs but improved formulations that come in the correct doses, require fewer pills, are flavored and dissolve in water.
Starting October 1, 2016, all children in Kenya initiated on TB treatment will be given the improved formulation.
The development of the medicine was overseen by TB Alliance, an international not-for-profit organization, and was funded by UNITAID and other partners.