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Amref joins TB screening drive in Turkana schools

The government has partnered with Amref Health Africa to undertake Tuberculosis screening in at least seven high schools in Turkana County over the last ten days.

Turkana Health department in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Lung Disease (NTLD) Kenya has concluded a ten-day TB screening exercise in seven high schools in the County.

The move according to experts was necessary due to the congregated nature of boarding schools compelling the County TB program to organize the active case finding exercise to stop the transmission of the highly infectious disease.

The team utilized a digital x-ray and sputum testing for those found to be suggestive; exhibiting any TB symptom such as persistent cough, unintended weight loss, chest pain and night sweats.

Speaking on site of the first school in Lokichar, the County Coordinator of TB, Leprosy and Lung Diseases Dr Job Okemwa said Turkana County is one of the top ten TB high burden counties.

“We have reported TB cases in schools as they were strained with congestion in classes and dormitories due to inadequate infrastructure thus amplifying the risk of TB transmission,” he said.

He further added that County TB Program, in collaboration with Amref, NTLD and World Relief Kenya, would continue screening schools if they notice any increase in the number of reported cases.

The NTLD Program Officer and Community Engagement Focal Person, Josphat Mutua noted that the TB burden was high in the sample schools visited.

“There is a need to follow up all the contacts to the newly TB diagnosed students, both at school and home and initiate screening, testing and treatment to the contacts found to have TB,” he said.

He emphasized the need for close supervision of the diagnosed students to complete medication and screen the community to find out the TB situation as this would greatly halt transmission.

According to the National Ministry of Health, Turkana’s TB case notification rate of 300/100,000 for 2022 against the WHO threshold of 100/100,000.

Dr Okemwa said that the program had systems of managing students at the facility level including contact management at the school.

He also appreciated the support of the Education Department led by the County Director of Education and also World Relief Kenya participating into the screening.

The teams were able to conduct screening in the following high schools Uhuru Girls (Lokichar), AGC Boys (Lokichar), Katilu Boys, Katilu Girls, St James Seminary (Lodwar), Turkwel Boys (Loima) and Loima Boys.

By Peter Gitonga

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