Stellenbosch University and Unitaid have signed a US$ 18.9 million grant agreement to develop child-friendly treatments and preventive therapy for treating multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in children. The agreement was announced today at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health.
More than 95 percent of children with MDR-TB do not currently receive treatment. For those who do, the treatment regimens are long, bad-tasting, toxic, and often cause severe side effects such as irreversible hearing loss. Children are typically treated mostly with adult tablets that need to be crushed.
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; strengthen the evidence on optimal dosing, safety, efficacy, acceptability and costs of using these regimens; and shaping the market for better child-friendly formulations.
The project will be implemented in three countries: 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.
“Children have the same rights to health that adults do, and yet children with drug-resistant TB are widely neglected,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union. “Every child affected by TB has a right to receive care that is entirely appropriate for them.”
The publication of a new edition of The Union’s technical publication, the Orange Guide, was also announced at the press conference. This guide provides practical guidance to health workers on the front line of TB control. It includes sections on HIV, MDR-TB and a review of the recommended treatment regimens.