South African university, Unitaid tie up to develop child-friendly treatments for multi-drug resistant TB

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on October 31, 2019

South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Unitaid have signed a $18.9 million grant agreement to develop child-friendly treatments and preventive therapy for children suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

The agreement was announced today at the ongoing 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health (WCOLH) in Hyderabad.

The project will be implemented in South Africa, India and the Philippines.

Stellenbosch University will work with partners TB Alliance, University of California San Francisco, De La Salle University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, BJ Medical College, Uppsala University and Chiang Mai University.

Child-friendly treatment

According to reports, more than 95 per cent of children with MDR-TB do not currently receive treatment. For those who do, the treatment regimens are long, not friendly, toxic, and often cause severe side effects such as irreversible hearing loss. Another problem is that children are also treated mostly with adult tablets, that need to be crushed for use. These tablets also taste bad.

The Better Evidence and Formulations for Improved MDR-TB Treatment for Children (BENEFIT Kids) project, will increase access to quality-assured MDR-TB medicines that are adapted to children by bringing child-friendly treatment formulations and preventive therapies that taste better and are appropriate for children.

“Children have the same rights to health that adults do, and yet children with drug-resistant TB are widely neglected,” said Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. “Every child affected by TB has a right to receive care that is entirely appropriate for them,” he added

Published on October 31, 2019

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