New Delhi: The government has introduced Tuberculosis tablets in orange and strawberry flavours for children who don’t take adequate dosage fearing it to be bitter.
The initiative, that aims to improve the treatment of tuberculosis and child survival rate has been rolled out in five states and will be expanded to 17 more states by the next month.
According to a health ministry official, the fruit-flavoured tablet will be accessible to all children across India by the end of next year.
The five states where the fruit-flavoured tablets have been rolled on a pilot basis are Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Maharashtra.
The doses of these tablets will be decided as per the body weight of the children.
“For the purpose, body weight has been divided into six categories – 4 to 7kg, 8 to 11kg, 12 to 15 kg, 16 to 24kg, 25 to 30kg and 30 to 35kg – on the basis of which the doses would be administered to kids,” said Dr Jagdish Pradash, Director General of Health Services (DGHS).
At present, children are given bitter-tasting tablets which are crushed into multiple pieces to give the correct dose to the kids, and as such the doses aren’t always precise and consistent, he said.
Since the drugs taste bitter, many children do not complete the treatment, increasing their chances of falling ill again and developing drug-resistant TB.
“The fruit-flavoured pills are easy to swallow as they melt inside the mouth. Thus a parent can make sure that the kid completes the full treatment,” he said.
Going forward, easily-dissolvable and flavoured TB drugs will also be made available for adults, he added.
The introduction of these flavoured drugs are in line with the World Health Organisation recommendations to improve treatment and survival rate among children suffering from TB.
According to government estimates, India has around 25 lakh TB cases of which around five to six per cent are children.