Kenya To Pioneer The Use Of Child-Friendly TB Medicines

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

Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary (PS) 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.

Ms Muriuki said that the use of child-friendly TB medicines 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 treatme
nt 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 Organization (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. Recognizing the significant overlap between TB and HIV, joint TB/HIV activities have been prioritized,’ said Ms Muriuki.

She added that over 94% of TB patients have been
tested for HIV, with over 93% 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.

‘Kenya’s proactive measures extend to preventive treatment for people living with HIV, with nearly 400,000 individuals enrolled in preventive treatment using Isoniazid, marking the nation as the second-largest program of its kind globally,’ she said.

The PS explained that despite these advances, TB remains the fourth leading cause of death in Kenya, with drug-resistant TB posing a persistent challenge with many cases going undetected due to delayed health facility visits or lack of awareness.

Ms Muriuki advised that early detection is crucial, with symptoms such as cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats warranting immediate attention.

‘To accelerate progress, concerted efforts are needed across sectors to advocate for improved access to T
B prevention, testing, and treatment services,’ said the PS.

Source: Kenya News Agency