New TB drug meant to prevent infection in HIV and Aids patients launched

NAIROBI: The United States government in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has launched a new drug intended to prevent tuberculosis ( TB) among people living with HIV and Aids.

This follows reports of increased infection as over 90,000 people aged between 15 and 44 in the country were diagnosed with TB in 2013.

Jackson Kioko, who represented Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, launched Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) that was developed to help prevent TB from affecting HIV and Aids patients.

The drug is supposed to prevent silent TB from progressing to active level. It is a six-month dose that is given once in a lifetime to significantly reduce the risk of acquiring active TB and also mitigating its transmission to others.

IPT is also recommended for vulnerable populations like people living with HIV and children under five years who are exposed to TB.

The drug was launched in Siaya during the national commemoration of World TB Day yesterday.

Dr Kioko said 70 machines had been placed in county and sub-county hospitals to help prompt disease detection, with 50 more expected to be commissioned.


He said the machines would help to curb the challenge of TB detection in children under the age of five.

“We have 1,400 Kenyans currently infected with ultimo-Drug ResistantTB (MDR- TB), with Siaya County having about 16 cases,” said Kioko.

The pilot use of the drug will be conducted in Kisumu and Siaya counties.

Kioko said the ministry was working with the private sector, especially chemists, who provide referrals to people who visit their facilities with TB symptoms.

He said over 80 per cent of those with TB had been put on treatment that had resulted in a 90 per cent recovery rate.

US representative Kevin Cain said out of 10 patients, nine successfully complete treatment.

“The TB programme in Kenya was found to be one of the best in Africa during World International Review in 2014,” he said.

National TB Leprosy and Lung Disease Programme head Enos Masini said the country needed Sh27 billion to curb the disease but partners had pledged to give about Sh7 billion.

“We can now treat 90 per cent of people infected with TB and they get well. We have over 400 facilities that provide TB medication,” said Dr Masini.

He said MDR- TB was currently treatable in all counties unlike five years ago when it was done only at Kenyatta National and Moi Teaching and Referral hospitals.