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Government Alerts Health facilities on TB Prevalence

As the Country grapples with another wave of Covid 19 pandemic, the government says the risks posed by the disease to people who are suffering from underlying conditions should not be forgotten.

Those with respiratory challenges especially could potentially suffer the most if exposed to the Covid-19 virus and thus all should bear in mind even as the world marked the World Tuberculosis Day (TB) Wednesday.

Speaking Wednesday at Afya House, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said TB patients have been known to face catastrophic costs while seeking treatment and care but in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the target is to have zero families facing catastrophic costs due to TB.

“There is need to provide approach in planning and implementation of appropriate affordable primary health care interventions which will transform the lives of Kenyans,” she said.

Mwangangi said that the health facilities are alert as the government continues to provide TB services, putting in mind that TB and Covid-19 have more or less same signs and symptoms.

“In fact, the control of Covid-19 in Kenya benefited a lot from the work of the TB control in areas of infection, prevention and control, diagnosis, contact tracing, and isolation. We will ensure normal programs and care for people with TB are not interrupted or affected as we address the current Covid-19 pandemic”, she assured.

This year’s theme ‘the Clock is ticking’ calls for equitable access to prevention, treatment and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

“We have domesticated the theme to reflect Kenya’s goals and targets to The Clock is Ticking – It is time to End TB in Kenya” with a tagline campaign message “Pimwa TB!  Tibiwa! Ishi poa!,” Mwangangi said

World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director Dr. Rudi Eggers said that the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the gains made in the TB treatment models in place by directly posing barriers to accessing TB care by creating fear, stigma and economic hardship for people with TB and mounting pressure to the health systems and disrupting TB management.

“To ensure continuity and maintenance of essential TB services, we call for coordinated efforts and pulling of resources among all stakeholders towards safeguarding accessing TB services in the wake of this evolving pandemic,” he said.

Dr. Eggers further said that integration of TB screening, testing and contact tracing interventions into the existing Covid-19 response and vice versa will go a long way to ensure we leverage on existing mechanisms to complement the effort to control both life-threatening respiratory diseases.

To accelerate efforts at country level on TB, WHO recommends a multi sectoral approach and accountability framework that brings together all relevant stakeholders in the spirit of leaving no one behind in this fight.

Today WHO is also releasing updated recommendations and implementation guidelines on systematic screening of TB disease including the use of Chest radiography to improve early detection of TB.

World TB Day is designed to create public awareness that tuberculosis today still remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Globally, nearly 4,000 people lose their lives to TB daily, and close to 28,000 people fall ill due to this preventable and curable disease.

Each year, the Country commemorates World TB Day on March 24th to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The day dates back to the year 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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