For the first time, patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis will be treated with an oral-only regimen for over six months, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Based on new clinical evidence presented and published last year, WHO said on Thursday, the new guidelines would allow countries to treat patients with either BPaLM (a combination of bedaquiline, pretomanid, linezolid, and moxifloxacin) or BPaL (bedaquiline, pretomanid, and linezolid).
The six-month BPaLM Therapy can be used in place of nine months or more of therapy or injections in patients under 15 years of age with multiple drug resistance who have not previously had treatment with bedaquiline, pretomanid, and linezolid.
” If resistance to fluoroquinolones is documented, this regimen can be used without moxifloxacin (BPaL). Drug susceptibility testing (DST) to fluoroquinolones is strongly recommended, but DST should not delay the start of treatment,” the guidelines state.
The WHO has also found that the linezolid dose provides the best balance of efficacy and safety in patients over 14 years of age.
“The review of the evidence from the study suggested that the optimal dose of linezolid is 600 mg daily and that programs should strive to maintain this dose throughout Maintain treatment regimens to ensure optimal efficacy, with the option of dose reduction in case of toxicity or poor tolerability,” it said.
Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO Global TB Program said: “We now have more and much better treatment options for people with drug-resistant TB thanks to research that is providing new evidence. This will be of great benefit to people struggling with tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis, leading to better outcomes.”
She said treatment “should be offered according to standards recommended by the WHO , including patient-centred care and support, informed consent, drug safety monitoring and management, and regular patient monitoring”.
The regimen has been procured from more than 35 countries worldwide. Those with a high TB burden were the first to benefit.
For the first time in a decade, TB deaths are rising in Kenya. About 21,000 people died in 2020, four times the number of coronavirus deaths.
That’s the equivalent of 58 Kenyans dying from TB every day.
TB is transmitted by droplets that enter the Air is released via coughing and sneezing. It remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world, killing more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
TB symptoms include cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss. A person with active tuberculosis can infect five to 15 others through close contact.
The WHO said in October that Covid-19 has reversed years of global progress in controlling tuberculosis and the number of deaths from the Disease has skyrocketed for the first time in 10 years.
Kenya is one of 30 countries with the majority (at least 83 percent) of cases. According to the Ministry of Health, around 140,000 people in Kenya were infected with tuberculosis last year.