MulikaTB, MalizaTB

DSC_5263NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The Ministry of Health on Thursday made a rallying call to all Kenyans to MulikaTB, MalizaTB in their own way, as the country joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Tuberculosis Day.

Through a speech, Health Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri highlighted the importance of prompt treatment of TB and prevention of new infections as interventions that could eradicate the infectious disease.

He explained that Kenya had made tremendous strides to this end but that more needed to be done as more than half of the cases went undetected.

“Beneath the powerful testimonies and impressive progress, it is distressing to note that TB still ranks as the 4th leading cause of death in Kenya,” he observed.

Over the last 10 years, a total of 1.2 million Kenyans have been diagnosed with TB and one million patients were treated successfully.

Improving air circulation in Public Service Vehicles while travelling and seeking treatment for a persistent cough that lasts more than two weeks, could go a long way in stamping out TB.

“Kenya remains the first country in Sub Saharan Africa to reach World Health Organisation targets for TB case detection and treatment success,” said Dr. Muraguri.

The PS further explained that many people with symptoms of TB reported to health facilities late while others did not report at all.

To mitigate this, Dr. Muraguri announced that GeneXpert, where available, would become the first test for all people suspected to have TB. The Ministry further plans to enroll 800,000 people living with HIV on Isoniazid Preventive Therapy.

“With the ongoing implementation of preventive therapy using Isoniazid to protect people with HIV from developing TB, we can further reduce TB cases in people living with HIV, including children under five who are in contact with persons with the illness,” he added, noting the need to prioritize childhood TB.

The adoption of GeneXpert has led to rapid diagnosis of TB and determines if the bacteria are resistant to drugs (its drug resistant variant) with a turnaround time of less than two hours.

In 2015, 80,000 Kenyans were tested for TB using this technology up from 20,000 in 2014. Free TB services are also available to 4,500 health facilities and 1,800 testing sites.

The combination of new interventions has averted the deaths of approximately 500,000 million people in the last 10 years. The implementation of collaborative TB/HIV activities has reduced the co-infection rate from 70 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2015.

The disease, according to the World Health Organization, ranks alongside HIV/AIDS as the world’s top infectious killer disease.