Parents express hope over new kid friendly TB drugs

Parents express hope over new kid friendly TB drugs

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Nairobi, KENYA: Elizabeth Wangeci, a mother of 2, is having fun teaching her son nursery rhymes and letters of the alphabet.

It seems like a precious moment worth having, however this was not the situation in their previous days.

“I started coughing, experiencing night sweats, heavy breathing, body weakness and weight loss. I visited the doctor who at first diagnosed me with Tuberculosis, TB. However a few weeks before I was self-medicating the cough I had. The cough always got worse,” Ms. Wangeci told Baraka FM.

She said that after the diagnosis she was advised by the doctors from MSF Doctors Without Borders to put her son on medication as well.

“Max was breastfeeding, he had not reached 2 years yet. There was a big risk I could infect my baby. His body also manifested all the symptoms of TB and he was put on medication immediately,” she said while staring at the ceiling, reminiscing the 2013 ordeal.

Ms. Wangeci who was later put on treatment for Extensively Drug Resistant XDR TB , recalled that it was difficult taking the bus every day for her and baby to take  their TB doses.

“Administering injections to a baby every day is a painful experience. The TB drugs were also very bitter as he had to take the same drugs adults use. We used to crash the tablets then mixed them with water. We used all means necessary to make sure he swallowed his meds. Sometimes he could spit it out and this forced us to administer the drugs to him again until he swallowed,” she said.

She said that baby Max*(not his real name) hated this whole process.

Sometimes the boy would tell her mother, “Mama kesho unaenda hospitali pekee yako.” (Mother tomorrow you are going to the hospital alone.)

Child friendly TB drugs

In September this year, Kenya through the National TB Program became the first country globally to launch child friendly TB medicines.

The treatments now being introduced are the first to meet the World Health Organization WHO guidelines for childhood TB treatment.

The development of the medicines was overseen by TB Alliance, an international not-for-profit organization, and was funded by UNITAID and other partners.

For a long time it was difficult to treat children suffering from TB because the tablets were large and difficult to swallow.