County Government steps up efforts in TB prevention and management

The County Government of Kirinyaga has stepped up efforts to prevent and manage Tuberculosis (TB) even as the disease continues to spread among the county residents. The County Department of Health records indicate that the county has a high TB burden with a case notification rate of 245/100,000 by 2018. Drug resistant cases have also increased by 50% between 2016 and 2018 which has been attributed to poor adherence to the prescribed regimen.

Governor Anne Waiguru says that the Department of Health has been undertaking sensitization among health care givers and community health workers who in turn educate the masses on TB prevention, timely diagnosis and seeking relevant medical attention. She said that TB remains a major public health problem and the leading killer of people living with HIV despite the fact it is a preventable, treatable and curable disease. She added that the health department has been educating the public on TB infection prevention and control measures such as cough hygiene, opening windows in congested rooms and seeking treatment for those with active TB.

The governor also decried the rising numbers of drug resistance cases which she said resulted to poor treatment outcomes and high death rates. At the same time, she said that that the county government has completed the construction of an isolation ward at Kerugoya County Hospital, which will go a long way in ensuring adherence to TB treatment plans as well as proper medical assessment. The 24-bed capacity isolation ward is however currently being used as Covid-19 isolation ward but will be reverted to TB centre when an alternative Covid isolation ward is set up in the upcoming medical complex at the hospital.

“The establishment of a TB isolation facility, which was set up in line with the National Isolation Policy, will enhance monitoring of patients who require confinement during treatment.” Said the Governor, reiterating the commitment of her administration to offer quality healthcare services to the county residents through continuous improvement of health facilities.

TB is a contagious airborne disease that is spread when people with the disease cough, sneeze or spit. It has been put as one the diseases that compound the problem of corona virus disease. The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Gladys Kimingi, affirms that TB patients in the county were getting the relevant medical attention even amid the Covid-19 crisis, urging anyone exhibiting symptoms of TB, which include prolonged coughing, to visit the hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

The Public Health Act CAP 242, section 17 classifies TB as a notifiable infectious disease. The act states that those suffering from the notifiable infectious diseases should be isolated in a designated place and detained while taking medication until the assessment by a Medical Officer of Health ascertains that the person is free from infection and can be discharged without endangering the public health.

The CEC pointed out that apart from improving TB treatment outcomes, the isolation ward will reduce TB burden among staffs and the community at large. Previously, a TB patient who failed to adhere to treatment plan would be confined in prison until they completed treatment, a requirement that was however annulled by High Court of Kenya in 2016.

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