New medicines to improve treatment, management of TB


Dr Biziyaremye shows how the new syrup TB medicine for children looks like during a training. (Lydia Atieno)

Pharmacists in thirty districts across the country have been introduced to new TB medicines expected to improve the management and treatment of patients suffering from Tuberculosis.

According to Floribert Biziyaremye, the in charge of Tuberculosis and other respiratory communicable diseases division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, the target group is children under 15 years with under 25kg.

Talking to The New Times last week, Biziyaremye noted that the pediatric-friendly formulation comes in the correct doses, require fewer pills, and is flavored and dissolves in water.

“These medicines are replacing old formulation, whereby to achieve a correct dose a health provider had to split or crush a number of bitter tasting pills that children must then swallow to estimate correct doses by using combinations of it,” he said.

According to Biziyaremye, Rwanda Biomedical Centre has already trained healthcare providers in the new treatment.

All staff involved in rational use and management of TB medicines, including medical procurement and production division, directors of district pharmacies, and pharmacists of different hospitals in the country have been trained, he said.

The training covered changes in tuberculosis treatment guidelines, ensuring active drug safety monitoring, increased awareness of utilisation of improved formulation and TB medicines in general, according to Biziyaremye.

The new TB medicines introduced in the country are Rifampicin 75mg + isoniazid 50mg + pyrazinamide 150 mg for intensive phase of 2 months and Rifampicin 75mg + Isoniazid 50mg for continuation phase of 4 months.

TB resistance

A survey carried out in 2015 indicates that 1.5 per cent cases of new TB patients experience drug resistance.

Out of around 10 per cent who were treated, 1.4 per cent were found to develop drug resistance.

However, Biziyaremye noted that delay of TB detection and medical consultation, inappropriate treatment as well as noncompliance to instructions of treatment were partly responsible for drug resistance.

Dr Patrick Migambi, the division manager of TB at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, told The New Times that the new medicines are effective.

According to him, the medicines are mainly for the multi -drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients.

He also noted that the main reason for drug resistance is when there is no rational use of antibiotics.

“Pharmacists and those working in laboratories are the most important people who should be informed on how such drugs are used to avoid cases of resistance, because they are the ones involved in giving out medicines, determining lab tests that help them come up with the right medications,” he said.

Migambi added that there are some previous patients who experienced multi-drug resistance and they need to have a new regiment, which is effective and will help kill the bacteria in the body.

The new medicines for TB multi-resistant cases are Bedaquiline, Delaminid and Linozelid.