Government and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) have embarked on a study to improve the provision of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for children.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care and the university embarked on the study in Harare and Bulawayo to improve on the available medication for children on ART.
So far children are given tablets that are said to be too big so much that they stick to their throats, while others have a bitter taste and require stringent storage conditions. The ministry said it had also realised that there is a growing number of children on first-line ART and a wide coverage of viral load monitoring.
According to the latest Bulawayo City Council minutes, the Ministry of Health and Child Care wrote to council notifying it of the study, which will be done in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has noted that there is a growing number of children on first-line ART and there is widening coverage of viral load monitoring, which will lead to increased detection of first-line virological failure.
“Consequently there will be an increase in numbers needing to switch to second-line treatment. The available tablets for children are either too big tablets, some stick to their throat, some have a bitter taste and some need stringent storage conditions,” said the ministry in the letter to BCC.
The ministry said it was conducting multi-country collaborative paediatric clinical trials focused on generating evidence for development and provision of the most appropriate ARV drugs with funding from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
“The trials are also focused on formulations for children in low resource settings and ensuring that children receive drugs and care close to where they live and in formulations and doses which can be delivered by caregivers and healthcare workers at primary-care level facilities.
“The study is being done in Zimbabwe (Harare and Mpilo Central Hospitals), Uganda and Zambia,” said the Ministry.
According to the council minutes, the city council is in support of the study.
“Many children receiving ART in the city clinics would have access to various monitoring tests as well as various future treatment opinions for HIV treatment in the future,” read the minutes.