The fight against Tuberculosis (TB) was stepped up following the launch of new tools to help in the diagnostic and treatment of the disease in Kenya.
The tools which were launched in Mathare North Health Facility aim at curbing the spread of TB in Kenya by introducing modern and efficient tools to test and monitor patients of TB for their full recovery and prevention to those who have been exposed to the disease.
The drive towards ending TB was fuelled by the UN high level meeting held in 2018 which included heads of state who agreed to a target of treating and preventing the rapid spread of TB in Kenya specifically. The iNTP was birthed to provide modern TB detecting and treatment equipment to the affected countries including Kenya.
The launch which was officiated by the Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Abdi Aman had speeches from other top officials associated with the project including the World Health Organisation country representative, National TB programme represent among others.
The tools launched included a portable Chest X-ray machine which is powered by batteries making it accessible for rural areas patients who are unable to travel to hospitals to have x-ray procedures done. Medication sleeves which are linked to an automated system that alerts health care providers through text messages or a toll free call when a patient takes their medication.
Tranent kits and IGRA tests were also launched as integrated tools. These machines hasten the tests done from sputum collected from patients. Instead of the 1 day wait to get results the tool kits take an hour each to detect TB in the patient’s sample. This saves on time and prevents spread of the disease by reducing exposure to unsuspecting public.
In total five new tools were launched at the colourful event which was graced by officials from at least 10 counties and the representative of USAID in Kenya Miss Heidi Obra.
In the speech read by Dr. Ones representing the WHO country representative Dr. Abdourahmane Diallo, there was emphasis on making treatment for the TB patients easily accessible especially in the remote areas of Kenya. Timely diagnosis as a way of reducing the spread of the disease was also mentioned in the speech. Reducing stigma of patients suffering from TB by empowering the community through public campaigns and awareness creation programmes was also a key method to curbing the disease.
According to statistics read by the CAS Dr. Rashid, a target of 40 million people to be diagnosed and treated for TB was set at the UN high level meeting. 6 million being persons living with HIV who are prone to the disease and 24 million people who have been exposed to the disease through contact by already ailing patients. Only 49% of children have been treated and 66% of adults through from 2018 to date.
In 2021, only 64% of cases were detected and treated where 17.3% were children below 5 years and 4% children above 5 years of age. The number of patients diagnosed with drug resistance TB was 804 out of a targeted 2000 which is only 40% of the target.
Given the statistics, Dr. Rashid emphasised on the low response to the target which was attributed to many factors including the Covid 19 pandemic which slowed down the project due to reduced medical access during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. He however insisted in not giving up and taking the new tools introduced to fast track the project in order to reach closer to the goal by the next high level meeting set to be held at the end of 2022.
Using the tools for research and other alternative tests and procedures not just TB as a way of improving the general health of the community was also a strategy mentioned by the CAS.
He encouraged the health care providers to not give up on the fight against TB.
“Being challenged in life is inevitable But being deleted is optional,” he remarked.
The new tools are now available to the public for use.