Child friendly tuberculosis (TB) drugs are now available countrywide, the ministry of health has announced. Kenya becomes the first country in the world to roll out the drugs nationally.

The new drugs are easier for children to take and they are expected to help improve treatment and child survival from TB. The drugs meet the WHO’s guidelines for childhood TB treatment. The drugs that were previously available were bitter tasting and this made treatment difficult.

The development of the new drugs was overseen by TB Alliance and was funded by UNITAID and other partners. The CS for health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu, had this to say about the new drugs, “Kenya is playing a leading role in the fight against childhood TB by being the first to introduce improved TB medicines for children. Now, with the appropriate treatments, we can make rapid progress in finding and treating children with TB so we can achieve a TB free generation.”

Kenya had nearly 7,000 reported cases of TB in infants and children, with those under age five at greatest risk of having severe forms of TB and dying from the disease. Children often get TB from infected persons in their environment. Parents are encouraged to take their children should be taken to the nearest health facility immediately if they have a cough, fever, night sweats, reduced playfulness, or if they fail to gain weight. If any member of the household is diagnosed with TB, all other household members should be tested for TB, especially children.

TB testing and treatment is free at all public health facilities in Kenya.