There is good news for children suffering from tuberculosis as the government has started the rollout of the world's first easily-dissolvable and flavoured drug in five states as part of a pilot programme.
The child-friendly tablets, which will come in candy flavours like orange and strawberry, is expected to be a game-changer in improving treatment.
At present, medicine for tuberculosis is extremely bitter in taste and is given four times a day. These flavored medicines would be given only two times a day. Dr Jagdish Prasad, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told Mail Today, "This is for the first time that union health ministry has come up with flavored and tasty medicine for tuberculosis for kids. India is the first country in the world to start with candy-flavored medicine for TB at a national level."
According to officials, body weight of children has been divided into six categories - 4 to 7kg, 8 to 11kg , 12 to 15kg, 16 to 24kg, 25 to 30kg and 30 to 35kg - based on which medicine would be given to a child. Commenting on the benefits of the new TB medicine, Dr Prasad, said that these pills are easily soluble in water and a child can easily drink it like a fruity drink. "Whichever flavor child likes, doctors can recommend that particular flavour medicine," he added.
PROJECT TO ONLY EXPAND COUNTRYWIDE
The Centre has started the pilot project in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Maharashtra. It plans to expand this project to 18 states by the end of July and the entire country by the end of this year, the DGHS said. Doctors at private hospitals gave their thumbs up to the launch.
Dr Vikas Maurya, head of department of Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital (Shalimar Bagh) told Mail Today, "It is a good move by the government as it so difficult to get children to take the medicine because of the bitter taste." As of now, 70,000 kids suffering from the disease are being treated by the government. The total number of kids suffering from TB in India is estimated to be around 1.5 lakh. TB is India's "severest" health crisis and kills an estimated 1,400 people a day, says Centre's draft on National Strategic Plan (NSP) for eliminating TB (2017-2025).
The Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) notified 17.5 lakh TB patients in 2016, from both public and private sectors, and 33,820 drug-resistant TB patients are notified additionally, the latest TB report released by the union health ministry government said. In 2015, TB was estimated to have killed 1.8 million people worldwide and six countries-India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa - accounted for 60 per cent of the total number of cases of tuberculosis worldwide.
Source: India Today