HEALTH workers and tuberculosis specialists gathered at a three-day workshop in Port Moresby last week to plan the implementation of a new medication for children.
PNG Paediatric Society president Dr Henry Welch told The National that the society started a pilot project to introduce a new child-friendly TB medicine in August at Port Moresby General Hospital.
“It is a fixed-dose combination medicine, meaning it contains three drugs in one pill,” Welch said.
“The new combination medicine is similar to the old medication in that is has the same three drugs.”
Welch said the new medicine had several advantages, including the fact that:
- It was a better dose for children (the old drug led to under dosing of some of the medicines);
- it tasted better – fruity, which meant children were more likely to swallow it; The old medicine was bitter;
- it was easily dispersible in water; and,
- Children using the new FDC would take fewer pills overall.
“Overall, these four things make it easier for children to take their medicines,” Welsh said.
“They will still need to take it daily for six to nine months and if they do, they will be completely cured from TB.
“It is important to know that while TB makes you sick, it can be cured if you take your full course of treatment and not stop early.
The project was made possible by a generous donation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and it is being implemented by the Paediatric Society of PNG.
Welch said the workshop was attended by several world experts in child TB, as well as several partners fighting TB in children.
This includes DFAT, TB Alliance, Unicef (children’s fund) WHO, World Vision, MSF, Burnet Institute, Baylor College of Medicine and Oil Search Foundation.
“It is an example of how serious the paediatricians and child nurses in PNG are taking the initiative to fight TB in children,” Welch said.