Kenya to introduce child-friendly TB medicine by October

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 03:45 | By
Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary Mary Muriuki. PHOTO/Print
Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary Mary Muriuki. PHOTO/Print

Kenya is pioneering the use of child-friendly Tuberculosis (TB) medicines, starting October 1, 2024 a move which will ensure availability of appropriate doses and flavours suitable for children.

Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary Mary Muriuki said that as Kenya leads the way towards a TB free generation, significant concern has been TB among children, with nearly 7,000 cases reported in infants and children in 2015.

Muriuki (pictured) said that the use of child-friendly TB medicine aims to improve treatment adherence, reduce mortality among children, and mitigate the risk of drug-resistant TB.

She said that TB continues to be a significant public health challenge in Kenya, impacting families and communities with its devastating effects. While primarily affecting the lungs, TB can affect various parts of the body and is transmitted through the air when infected individuals cough.

“In the past decade, Kenya has made remarkable strides in combating TB, with 1.2 million diagnoses and successful treatment of one million patients, preventing over 500,000 deaths,” said the PS in a statement to newsrooms.

She explained that these achievements position Kenya as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for TB case detection and treatment success.

According to the PS, accessible free TB testing and treatment services across over 4,000 public and private health facilities have been instrumental in this success. To enhance TB testing services further, the government has introduced 120 GeneXpert machines for rapid testing of TB and its drug-resistant variants, making Kenya a leader in Africa in leveraging modern technology for TB diagnosis.

“Quality assurance measures ensure adherence to standards, while the availability of digital X-ray machines in all counties bolsters testing services nationwide. Recognising the significant overlap between TB and HIV, joint TB/HIV activities have been prioritised,” said Muriuki.

She added that over 94 per cent of TB patients have been tested for HIV, with over 93 per cent receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy in the last five years. This integrated approach has not only positioned Kenya as a global leader in TB/HIV control but also reduced the TB/HIV co-infection rate by half over the past decade.

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