Kenya on Tuesday became the first country to launch new child-friendly medicine for treating tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking during the launch of the treatment for tuberculosis, Health Secretary Cleopa Mailu said no child in Kenya would henceforth die from the infectious disease.
“Kenya is playing a leading role in the fight against childhood TB by being the first to introduce improved TB medicines for children,” he said.
TB Alliance (Global Alliance for TB Drug Development), an international non-profit organization, was involved in the development of the drugs used to cure TB after receiving a $16 million grant from UNITAID.
Other partners include the UN, the World Health Organization and the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Lung Disease Program (NTLD-Program)
According to the Kenyan Health Ministry, tuberculosis still remains a major killer of children in the East African country.
The WHO’s updated data shows that at least 1 million children worldwide suffer from tuberculosis annually, resulting in 140,000 deaths.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Kenya’s head of department of preventive and promotive health, Jackson Kioko said that TB was the most common source of death among other communicable diseases.
“It has actually surpassed HIV and we know that TB is a major cause of death among people living with HIV. This [new TB medicine] will be available in all our 9,000 outlets in the country thus ensuring many lives are saved,” he said.
Children in Kenya make up 10 percent of all TB cases and 2-3 percent are never treated.
In 2015, 7,000 children suffered from TB. The number is feared to be higher as most cases were not reported, 20 countries will join Kenya as of October in rolling out the new medicine nationwide.