The Ministry of Health has received 75,000 packs of child-friendly Anti-Retroviral drugs, which could be a breakthrough for parents struggling to administer the medication to their children.
The innovative formulation is packaged as capsules containing strawberry flavoured granules which can be stirred into food or milk.
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi received the Dolutegravir (DTG) paediatric HIV treatment drugs at Nyumbani Children’s Home in Karen, Nairobi.
Dr Mwangangi said the donation would ensure that no child or adolescent living with HIV and has been transitioned to DTG misses their drugs.
Dr Catherine Ngugi, the head of the National Aids and STI’s Control Programme, said DTG belongs to a class of ARVs called HIV integrase inhibitors, which is a dispersible tablet available in the Paediatric DTG 10mg.
The CAS explained that “DTG has several benefits including the ease of administration, palatability and higher genetic barrier to resistance.
"Meaning, if taken correctly, children who will be put on this treatment are less likely to develop resistance to it.”
Anne*, whose five-year-old daughter is on ARVs, said the previous drugs comprised several tablets which cause nausea and fatigue. The new ones are administered by mixing with water and taken only once a day.
“The other drugs were quite hectic but thankfully she is no longer vomiting, no tummy aches and loss of appetite,” she said, adding that “we have been using these new drugs since July and we can definitely see the difference.”
Nearly 80 per cent of HIV pregnant women access antenatal care, yet only half of them deliver in healthcare facilities. An estimated 20 per cent of HIV-infected pregnant women end up not being on treatment.
Dr Andrew Mulwa, the director for Medical Services/Preventive and Promotive health, said Kenya has reduced new HIV infections among children by 75 per cent since 2009.
"We have 6,806 new infections in children annually which means about 20 children get infected daily. This is unacceptable. I know we can change this tide,” he said.