The way to success in the adoption of new treatments among infants

I began collaborating with the Ministry of Health in Kenya in 2021 as part of the ADOPT research project. The project is supervised by the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium (PPC), of which Unlimit Health is a member. The PPC is a collaboration of pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, research institutes, NGOs and researchers to help reduce the effects of Schistosomiasis by identifying and providing access to a novel treatment for babies with the infection.

Praziquantel’s not suitable for children six years old and less

Praziquantel has been utilized to treat Schistosomiasis for a long time by health programs in countries affected. But, it isn’t appropriate for young children (at six years old or less) mostly because of its bitter flavor and the bulk of the tablet, which poses an choking risk.

Trials for the new option for treatment for children have been completed, giving evidence of its safety and efficient.

Today, with the ADOPT program (funded via the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund) There is an opportunity to collaborate together with health ministers and partners from three countries that are endemic three of which are Kenya, Uganda and Cote Ivoire – to further collect evidence that will allow for efficient access and distribution of this drug for preschoolers after it is approved for registration.

To ensure that people have access to services, it is essential to be aware of the views and requirements of the communities affected. To accomplish that, we must devise an effective method to increase awareness and involve the community.

The participants who took part in the mobilization workshop were an element of ADOPT initiative in Kenya. Credit: Unlimit Health

Support for the new treatment option for schistosomiasis.

Recently, I went in the city of Nairobi to Kenya to assist Kenya’s Ministry of Health as they started their efforts to devise an efficient advocacy and social mobilization plan for the roll-out of the new treatment for children option, once it is approved. The event kicked off with a kick-off event lasting two days which was run by Division of Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases within the Ministry of Health, and also attended by major partners like the research institutes African Institute for Health and Development and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, county representatives from the Ministry of Health, and other divisions, including that of Department of Disease Surveillance (polio campaigns) and in the Department of Neonatal and Child Health (known as Malezi Bora) and the Division of Community Health Services.

Community perceptions of child care

The workshop sparked engaging discussions on community perceptions, how the current strategies for social mobilisation targeting preschool age children are effective and what could create barriers to the acceptance of a possible alternative treatment method.

It is apparent that people trust their local health professionals, however people are still hesitant, especially with regard to the adverse effects, as a result of the experiences of treating schistosomiasis among school-aged children in large-scale program for drug management. The religious and community leaders can be strong allies if they are engaged effectively, however other health initiatives have faced significant challenges after failing to connect with key groups in the community effectively.

The spread of misinformation and rumours are barriers to the implementation of treatment

The rumours that injections or medicines are designed to secretly sterilize children or that a sickness originates from witchcraft have proved to be extremely harmful to other health initiatives. If these falsehoods are allowed to circulate, it can hinder the effectiveness of the campaign.

The importance of walking carefully and with care cannot be overemphasized. We recognize that the treatment of babies and toddlers is a sensitive subject and the introduction of a new medication could cause a lot of anxiety and anxieties.

However they PPC are also committed to decreasing the negative adverse effects of the disease as we are aware that children and toddlers are affected without treatment. It is therefore essential to reach a common appreciation of the significance of this possible new treatment option for all the members of the community and caregivers of children six years old or less than.

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