Stellenbosch University and Unitaid have signed an MoU for US$ 18.9 million grant to develop child-friendly and preventive therapy for treating multidrug-resistant TB in children.
The agreement to this end has been sighed at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health (WCOLH) taking place in Hyderabad, India.
Fostering the idea, Better Evidence and Formulations for Improved MDR-TB Treatment for Children (BENEFIT Kids) project, will be implemented in three countries including South Africa, India and the Philippines.
The project focuses on increasing access to quality-assured MDR-TB medicines that have formulations that are child-friendly. These preventive therapies will be made appropriate for children, with better taste, optimal dosing, safety, efficacy and acceptability, according to a statement by The Union.
According to WHO, in 2018 nearly1.1 million children became ill with TB and 251,000 children died of the disease. More than 95% of children with MDR-TB do not currently receive treatment.
For those children who receive therapy, 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.
“Children have the same rights to health that adults do, and yet children with drug-resistant TB are widely neglected,” says José 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 adds.
Stellenbosch University will be working with 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 in promoting the project.