New Tuberculosis Drug launched

A new short-course Tuberculosis (TB) Preventive Therapy (TPT) has been outdoored for the first time at Agormanya in the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality of the Eastern Region.

The new fixed-dose combination (FDC) with rifapentine and isoniazid termed “3HP” prevents people infected with TB from developing active TB and reduces the number of pills that people who need the treatment have to take every week from nine to three.

The launch in Ghana follows a recent global procurement agreement with Macleods made possible by the IMPAACT4TB project, funded by Unitaid and led by the Aurum Institute.

Ghana has become one of the African countries alongside Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to start providing the FDC in the first quarter of 2021, while seven other countries will introduce it by the end of the year.

Other countries are expected to receive supplies with the support of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Dr. Stephen Ayisi-Addo, the Programme Manager of National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), speaking at the launch said, “Prevention of active TB disease by treatment of Latent TB Infection (LTBI) is a critical control objective of the NACP and National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) to reduce the incidence of TB in Ghana.”

According to him, “the programme will continue to collaborate with Aurum Institute through the IMPAACT4TB project as they provide 3HP-FDC to 9,000 eligible persons, technical capacity to service providers and improve on TPT reporting in 12 facilities in four regions of Ghana and will work towards the nationwide scale-up of 3HP.”

Dr. Kwame Essah, the Country Director of Aurum Institute Ghana, also emphasised that “the availability of 3HP in Ghana is great news in the response to TB infection control. This convenient short course TPT complements the efforts of the government and should result in greater compliance to treatment.”

On his part, Prof. Gavin Churchyard, founder and CEO of the Aurum Institute, lauded Ghana for its readiness to introduce the fixed-dose combination.

“With the roll-out of this new FDC in at least 12 high TB burden countries this year, I’m feeling a renewed sense of optimism that we can get back on track to meet our ambitious global TB prevention goals,” he said.

In Ghana, 44,000 people fell ill with TB in 2019 alone, which resulted in over 15,000 deaths, including 4,800 deaths among people living with HIV.

—DGN online


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