Kenya becomes the first of 18 countries to start dispensing child-friendly Tuberculosis medication in an effort to better treat children infected by the disease. Jillian Kitchener reports.
More young tuberculosis patients are likely to survive the brutal disease, after Kenya rolls out child-friendly medications this week. Doctor Immaculate Kathure with Kenya's National TB Program says, they have been eagerly awaiting the drugs debut. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHILD TB SERVICES COORDINATOR, KENYA NATIONAL TB PROGRAM, DOCTOR IMMACULATE KATHURE, SAYING: "...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." The child-friendly drugs are the first products to meet the World Health Organization's 2010 guidelines for childhood TB treatment. The new, improved formulations come in the correct doses, are fruit-flavored and dissolve in water -- making them easier for children to take. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHILD TB SERVICES CO-ORDINATOR, KENYA NATIONAL TB PROGRAM, DOCTOR IMMACULATE KATHURE, SAYING: "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." The TB Alliance campaign that oversaw the drugs' development says TB killed more than 1.3 million adults and 140,000 children in 2014. But they say the new drugs should decrease the numbers in the future. Some 155,000 children worldwide are expected to benefit. Eighteen countries have already ordered the new medicines and are preparing to roll them out. Kenya is leading the pack... making gains against the country's leading infectious disease.