Malawi records 9 children with drug resistant TB

The National TB and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP) has disclosed that the country has so far registered nine cases of children with drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) since 2021 to date.

The program’s Deputy Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Coordinator, Sosten Mtalika, disclosed this to Nyasa Times during an interview. He said five of them under the age of 15 years were diagnosed through contact tracing.

“Children can get it directly from a person with DR-TB who is in close contact with them,” he said.

Assistant District TB Officer, Moffat Msokwa

Mtalika said sometimes they can get it when they are diagnosed with Drug Sensitive Tuberculosis if they did not take medications regularly, not finished treatment duration as prescribed or taking drugs of inferior quality.

This can assist in the development of DR-TB in both adults and children, he said.

Since getting DR-TB directly from a person with DR-TB is common, he said, contact investigation is done to all DR-TB patients in the household and close contacts so that DR-TB is diagnosed early among contacts, especially children.

National Deputy Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Coordinator, Sosten Mtalika

DR-TB is curable if the person adheres to the treatment prescribed to you by doctors at the hospital, he said.

A six-year-old Lusungu (not real name) was diagnosed with DR-TB in 2021 at Mwenelondo Health Centre in Karonga district and is currently on treatment.

Her mother, Fynes Mhango explained that her daughter was first put on the first line of drugs but after sometime she resisted the drugs.

“Considering the gravity of her condition at that time, they examined her again and found that she developed drug resistance,” she said.

Mhango further said they immediately changed her to the second line of drugs. Her life revived, she is a strong girl now playing with her friends.

She added that her daughter will finish her treatment in May, 2022.

Mother to Lusungu, Fyness Mhango

“I can testify that my child has now started school in standard one together with other children,” she said.

Assistant District TB Officer at Karonga Hospital, Moffat Msokwa said the team from the hospital make follow ups to make sure the girl is taking her medication properly.

“We suspect that the girl developed drug resistant when her mother moved away and she was being brought by her grandmother,’ he said

During that period we believe she was not taking her drugs regularly as prescribed, he said.

As a child, Msokwa said, she needed close monitoring by guardians so that she doesn’t miss the drugs.

Drug resistance in children is a rare occurrence but it is certainly there as it is attacking with the same severity as it does with adults.

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