Breakthrough for TB kids

02 December 2015 - 12:47 By Katharine Child

For the first time‚ there is medicine for children with TB specially designed for them. Even though tuberculosis is a disease that is least 8000 years old and treatment that cures the disease is more than 50 years old‚ children have been given adult medicine‚ making it hard to give them the correct dose. The medicine also tastes bad‚ making children less likely to take it.The new medication was announced on Wednesday morning at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health held in Cape Town this week. According to the World Health Organisation at least one million children become ill with TB each year and 140‚000 children die of this curable disease.“The availability of correctly dosed medications will improve treatment for children everywhere‚” said Dr Mel Spigelman‚ president and CEO of the TB Alliance.“This is an important step toward ending the neglect that has characterized the care of children with TB for far too long.”Spigelman said: "In virtually every other disease - of course we would have medicines for children available. Frankly it would have been unacceptable for every other disease to only have adult treatment. We tolerated this for TB."The drug is going to cost R150 for six months.This low cost is unheard of for a new medicine‚ he said. "This is very affordable. This is a tremendous achievement."TB Alliance has partnered with WHO‚ UNITAID‚ USAID‚ and others in the development and introduction of these products. "You need to have an adapted formulation for kids. Kids are not adults‚" said Philippe Duneton from UNITAID‚ who funded the project to develop medicine for TB.Monique Davids is a mother of four children from Cape Town. The father of her children had TB and then two of her children got TB."Jayden - my youngest son had TB meningitis when he was a baby and developed water on the brain. It was terrifying for me knowing he was in hospital. They started the treatment. He had six tablets which I had to crush for him."The first two weeks the nurses gave him the medication. I went with them every day. I struggled giving him the medication. It was very sour." Then she had to go home and bribe her daughter‚ who also had TB‚ to take the medication."It hurt me as a mother. She is scared of doctors now. I would tell her the hospital will come fetch you and you will land in hospital if you won't take your medicine."But South Africa requires trials for this new drug formulation and it will not roll out the medicine yet.Spigelman said South Africa had strict regulations and it would take a long time to register in South Africa.

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