In a big win for community health and saving lives, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board—Kenya’s regulatory authority for medicines—has formally approved CHWs distributing amoxicillin tablets to treat U5 children with pneumonia at the household level. Pneumonia is the leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality and accounts for more than 15% of U5 death—estimated to kill a child every hour in Kenya. Living Goods and other development partners have spent years advocating for community-based treatment with amoxicillin; in 2019, a panel of experts first issued a policy recommendation enabling CHWs to dispense amoxicillin to treat children with fast-breathing pneumonia without danger signs.
Prior to the Pharmacy and Poison Board authorization, Living Goods had exceptional approval by local authorities to distribute Amoxicillin in some counties, but the lack of national guidance created strain and uncertainty for CHWs.
The MOH is creating an implementation framework and will conduct a 6-month pilot in select counties. Living Goods is hopeful to roll out amoxicillin treatment in all Kenyan counties next year, particularly in Isiolo. Given Isiolo’s county’s high pneumonia prevalence rate of 10.7%—well above the national average of 8.5%—and the infrastructural challenges that complicate reaching health facilities, we believe community based-treatment with Amoxicillin will be a breakthrough in safeguarding the health of children under 5 and will also improve our treatment numbers in Kenya operations.