Tanzania to introduce new anti-retroviral formulations for children

The United Republic of Tanzania is set to introduce sweet-flavoured tablets for children living with the human immunodeficiency virus-HIV/AIDS. The development follows adaptation of new WHO global guidelines on HIV treatment and technical consultations among MOH and key players leading the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“The flavouring renders the drug more palatable to children compared with current options that are bitter to the taste or otherwise hard for children to consume”, says Dr Christine Musanhu- Medical Officer for HIV/AIDS Treatment and Care at the WHO Tanzania Country Office.

Treatment coverage among children living with HIV trails behind adult treatment coverage in most of the sub-Saharan African countries with large HIV epidemics. In addition, studies indicate that large proportions of people enrolled on treatment have family members, including children, whose HIV status is unknown.

"The advantage of this new formulation besides being easy to take is that a child achieves viral suppression faster, and chances of developing drug resistances are less," she said.

New formulations for children will take Tanzania a step further towards tackling inequalities in access to HIV treatment services. Once key processes such as determination of quantities, clearance from TMDA and training of health care workers on how to administer the new formulations, the drugs will be imported.

"We are also working with the government to find out the amounts that are required including revising the trading packages. This is done with collaboration with other partners, but we hope that early in 2022, we will be able to order the medicines for the children".

“No one will be left behind in this. We want all groups to access the services so that we achieve the intended goals of eradicating HIV,” Dr. Christine adds.

Nearly 90 percent of HIV-positive children worldwide and roughly two-thirds of all HIV-positive people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the massive efforts to roll out antiretroviral drugs has concentrated on adults, not children. Children in Africa continue to die of AIDS at high rates. If untreated, AIDS kills 50 percent of children born with HIV before their second birthday.

Eastern and Southern Africa have been particularly affected and have the highest number of child deaths due to HIV than any region in the world. An estimated 5.3 million adults and children in these regions need antiretroviral therapy, this is more than half of the total number of people in need of treatment worldwide.

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

Dr Neema Kileo Email: kileon@who.int Tel: +255 755 551 804