Concerns have been raised over the increased number of patients reporting discontinuation or treatment interruption in Turkana County.
Medically termed as ‘Lost to Follow Up Clients’ the most recent TB outcome report for cohort 2019 recorded a 9% score.
Speaking during a TB Technical Working Group meeting for the County Department of Health Services and partner organisations, the area TB Coordinator Dr. Job Okemwa pointed out alcoholism, lack of nutritional support and migration patterns both within the County and across the neighbouring international borders due to nomadic pastoralism lifestyle as possible causes of the situation.
Okemwa added that failure to do follow up increased the risk of TB outbreak at the community level and at the same time predisposed the patient to more resistant forms of the disease which are more severe in nature and deadly.
The report also indicated that the 2019 cohort had a treatment success rate of 84% which was lower than the nationally recommended TB figures of 90%. On cure rate, the report placed the county at 54%.
Despite the trend, Okemwa lauded the support by Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation in respect to efficiency of x-ray reporting using the telemedicine approach which delivered results to the patient in two hours’ time.
Okemwa added that the procedure for free X-ray services for suspected TB cases had been established and expressed hope that it will be fully implemented by the concerned parties.
On TB and HIV, the report indicated that facilities were doing extremely well since Sub County testing rate averaged 98% with some quarters doing up to 100% HIV testing.
The County Medical Laboratory Coordinator James Maragia said that the county had attained a 71% Gene expert coverage with the addition of two machines to be stationed at Lokori and Lokitaung Sub County Hospitals.
According to Maragia, the new machines will increase the turnaround time for TB diagnosis and strengthen patient confidentiality due to its online and SMS format of delivering results to the patients.
Maragia further called for an independent Gene Xpert Technical Working Group and data review.
By Peter Gitonga