Case detection and cure success rate for Tuberculosis among the pediatric population is set to go higher in Turkana North after Lokitaung Sub-county hospital and Lowarengak Health Centre were declared to be fully fledged Catalysing Pediatric (CaP) TB study sites.
They are the latest facilities to acquire the status after eight others in Turkana West, Turkana Central and Loima, Turkana County. The county now has 10 such facilities.
According to the county TB coordinator Dr Job Okemwa, the new development means that the hospitals are now able to fast-track the elimination of TB among children by boosting access and utilization of the best identification and treatment services at the earliest opportunity, including training of health care workers and recruitment of cough monitors.
“As a preparatory measure, the hospitals have started to plan for capacity building of staff on identification, screening, diagnostic and treatment of pediatric TB alongside strengthening the capacity to manage TB by recruitment of cough monitors,” Okemwa said.
He added that plans are underway to ensure that staff in the two facilities are introduced to advanced sample collection techniques including sputum induction, gastric aspiration, nasopharyngeal aspiration and fine-needle aspiration for children under the age of five who cannot expectorate.
With regard to diagnostics, Dr Okemwa said that the relevant staff will receive refresher training on interpretation of X-ray results for better patient outcomes.
While noting the support of Elizabeth Glacier Pediatric Aids Foundation as the lead partner in CaP TB in Turkana, Dr Okemwa called on all health care workers handling TB patients as part of their routine duty to make use of the short-term prophylaxis of 3RH regimen when attending to under 5 children who are contacts of bacteriologically confirmed TB adult cases.
The program comes at a time when available data indicates that more than 30,000 children had benefited from TB screening services with more than 2,000 cases being successfully diagnosed and treated in the county over the last five years.
By Peter Gitonga