Three Counties including Kericho, Kisumu, and Nyamira have received a major boost after a community-based organisation, Our Lady of Perpetual Support (OLPS) through AMREF Health Africa in Kenya with funding from the Global Fund offered Sh70 million grant in support of control and prevention of Tuberculosis (TB) disease.
OLPS has partnered with the three counties in carrying out Active Case Finding (ACF), engaging communities through radio talk shows, and sensitising the Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) on issues concerning TB so that they are able to reach communities in contact tracing.
Speaking during the close of a two-day seminar at ACK Holy Trinity in Kericho Town aimed at reviewing TB and progress made in the prevention and control of TB, Kericho County Director of Medical Services, Dr Betty Langat affirmed the government’s commitment to ensure the eradication of TB disease by the year 2030.
She urged the health workers in Kericho County to participate actively with a sense of urgency to ensure that the National TB programme that involves Active Case finding, TB testing, treatment, and community sensitisation among others is implemented.
“That is why we have partnered with organisations such as Our Lady of Perpetual Support (OLPS), National Empowerment Network of People living with HIV/AIDS, and those affected by TB in Kenya (NEPHAK) and Walterid to fight the Tuberculosis disease,” said Langat.
Langat said the government has signed a two-year contract with NEPHAK to support private health facilities within Kericho County such as chemists to carry out screening for patients with TB symptoms such as cough, weight loss, and night sweats.
“We are encouraging the private facilities to join hands with us in this fight against TB by helping us in screening patients and the private clinicians will receive an incentive of Sh. 1000 per patient screened for TB,” added Langat.
According to the Kericho County TB Coordinator Ms. Elizabeth Kirui, statistics indicate that between the months of July and September, a total of 1,500 persons tested positive for TB and are currently undergoing a six-month treatment and medication.
Kirui, however, expressed concern that TB prevalence in the County was high noting that the 1,500 patients could have infected others within their communities since TB is an airborne disease.
“One person with Tb can infect 10 other people and that is why through the partnership with OLPS, NEPHAK, and Walterid, we will be able to carry out an Active Case Finding (ACF) within the communities where the 1,500 patients come from for prevention of the disease further,” said Kirui
She noted that facilities within Kericho County had also started a TB Preventive therapy which is given to all persons living with HIV, all TB contacts, healthcare workers, and people in prison where they are given drugs free of charge to prevent TB.
“So far, we have managed to give preventive therapy to 80 per cent of Persons living with HIV. We are making good progress, so I am appealing to the public with symptoms of coughing, night sweats, fever, and weight loss to get tested for TB since TB is curable and can be prevented as well,” added Kirui.
Kirui further expressed concern that TB patients on treatment stopped their medication before the complete timeline recommended for TB dosage which is six months and are at risk of developing drug-resistant TB.
She further explained that drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) is a form of antimicrobial resistance that is difficult and costly to treat caused by TB bacteria that are resistant to at least one of the first-line existing TB medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates.
“Patients who fail to complete the six months’ dosage are our biggest challenge in this fight since they also continue to spread the disease but we have started to actively follow up on all our patients to ensure they complete the six months’ medication period,” remarked Kirui.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) Tuberculosis (TB) is the fifth killer disease in Kenya and the World’s leading infectious disease killer with symptoms appearing gradually over several weeks and it persists if not treated.
By Kibe Mburu