The Health Department in Murang’a County has adopted a new initiative that will hopefully hasten testing and treatment of tuberculosis (TB).
In the recent past, the department has deployed a number of motorcycles which are involved in collecting samples from various health facilities within the county and taking them for testing at the main laboratory located in Murang’a Level-5 Hospital.
The county’s TB and Leprosy Coordinator Lucy Irungu explained that the county has a sample networking system where samples were collected in health centres that do not have laboratory equipment and transported to laboratories instead of referring patients.
The officer lauded the county administration for the introduction and implementation of the sample network system saying the initiative has helped to tackle TB cases.
The TB sample network system that the county has implemented is where samples are picked by a rider from local dispensaries that do not have a capacity to carry out TB tests to the County level 5 hospital that is equipped with equipment to test for the disease.
The rider system is economically productive with regards to time management, since one is required to visit the nearest health facility and does not have to travel far to seek TB diagnosis and treatment.
Irungu explained that the rapid testing helps reduce transmission as diagnoses could now be made much faster and from all public health facilities enabling the patients to start treatment early.
The officer relayed that in terms of cost, TB test and treatment is free and insisted that for TB diagnosis, the local residents could visit their nearest dispensary or health centre and access the services.
“If the rider system is sustained for a long period, TB transmission period will be cut short and the transmission rate will go down,” she averred, adding that TB testing and treatment is free.
Irungu also noted that TB could be described as a masculine disease as 72 per cent of the patients being treated for the disease in Murang’a are male, a factor she attributed to poor health seeking habits among men.
“Most men tend to do self-medication and try alternative medicine instead of going to hospital which makes them more likely to spread and contract TB as a result of late diagnosis among their peers,” she said while noting that men congregate more than women.
Murang’a County is number two after Kiambu in TB preference within the central region.
Irungu noted that in 2020 there was a decline in TB diagnosis as Covid-19 made many patients shy away from hospitals, a factor that was as an outcome of the prejudice that greatly increased fear that respiratory symptoms could be a sign of coronavirus.
“In 2020, we had 1,871 diagnosed cases of TB. This figure was a decrease from the previous years. This decrease is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that grappled our county,” she stated.
The coordinator also noted that the co-infection rate in Murang’a was low as only 17 per cent of people diagnosed with TB also have HIV.
By Purity Mugo and Anita Omwenga