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State to fight TB using Community Centered approach

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health, Susan Nakhumicha has said that community centered approaches and stakeholders play a pivotal role in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) in the country.

Nakhumicha said in Kenya, as in many parts of the world, TB continues to pose a formidable public heath challenge despite concerted efforts and notable progress over the years.

The CS noted that TB remains a leading cause morbidly and mortality in the country and it is critical that the country strengthens the collaboration with the grassroots stakeholders to reach every corner of our nation with TB services, especially in underserved and hard to reach areas.

She said that TB is the fourth leading cause of death in Kenya and 22,700 people have lost their lives following TB infection by 2020.

Speaking in Kimorori grounds at Kenol in Murang’a County while marking world TB Day, Nakhumincha said that the newly launched National TB Strategic plan 2023-2030 emphasizes community centered approaches integrating Community Heath Promoters (CHPs) for household level TB education, detection and referral.

“One of the cornerstones of our strategy in this battle against TB is the imperative to leverage community efforts” she said adding that communities are at the forefront of our responses, serving as first line of defense in identifying and addressing TB cases.

She divulged that CHPs and other grassroots stakeholders play a vital role in raising awareness, conducting TB screenings, providing directly observed treatment support to TB patients and ensuring that those affected are linked to care and support services.

“As we deploy the government’s CHP program, TB is one of the key services that the government is helping bring closer to the people” said the CS adding that currently, the government had deployed 107 CHPs countrywide.

The CS noted that up to 27 percent of TB patients continue to suffer catastrophic costs due to TB. She said the government will work to include TB services in the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) benefits package.

“The government is accelerating its efforts towards making Kenya a Tb free nation. Thus, it is ensuring that TB services are accessible and affordable to all Kenyans irrespective of where they seek health services,” she said.

“I therefore urge all Kenyans to ensure they register so that they can benefit from this support. Let us harness the power of communities, engage all sectors and redouble our efforts towards a TB free Kenya” she added.

She noted that the CHPs now have the essential kits including smart phone and devices to help improve data capturing, recording and reporting of TB cases.

Further, the CS said the government has accelerate research and development for new tools including enhance access to rapid molecular diagnosis and efficient treatments, prioritize TB prevention.

“We are using cutting edge innovation technologies in screening cases of TB like rapid diagnostic kits for early detection,” she said adding that a shorter treatment regime for children has also been developed that lasts four months unlike initially, it lasted six months.

The CS observed that early detection and adherence to treatment are critical and adherence to treatment are critical to overcoming the spread of TB.

“Let us break the silence and stigma surrounding TB and empower those that are affected to seek help without fear or shame,” she said.

The CS lauded the efforts made by Murang’a County Governor, Irungu Kang’ata, for coming up and implementing Kangata Care, Uji programme Inua mkulima initiatives among others in order to better the lives of his people.

On his part Kang’ata said that the county is making strides in terms of improving the health care system despite some challenges like poverty.

He noted that high levels of poverty in the county is directly linked to the rising cases of TB. He said that his government has come with inua mkulima programme as a counter this effect where part of the farmers proceed will go towards providing health care.

He further said that the county has launched Murang’a Youth service program where the youth are involved in maintaining a clean environment for better health and prevention of TB cases.

The governor averred his commitment towards providing better health care to the people through Kang’ata care programme, which has 40,000 households benefiting from it.

“Kang’ata care provides comprehensive inpatient care in government and faith- based facilities and outpatient cover in contracted health facilities,” he said adding that it also provides optical and dental care and last expense benefits.

TB is still one of the world’s deadliest diseases and recent years have seen a worrying increase in drug-resistant TB.

The theme of this year’s World TB Day is Yes! We can end TB! ‘It conveys a message of hope that getting back on track to turn the tide against the TB epidemic.’

World TB Day is an opportunity to renew commitment, inspire and take action to end TB.

By Anita Omwenga

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