According to Mark Bore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health, plans are underway to ensure that local laboratories were able to identify TB and drug resistant types of TB in the shortest time possible.
Bore lamented that there were only three public laboratories in the country that were able to diagnose TB and appealed to the Government to invest more in the heath sector.
“We need to urgently combine efforts to rapidly expand the existing laboratory infrastructure to cope with the new demands while simultaneously making progress against the most serious existing cases through mobilisation of funding from local and international partners,” said Bore.
The ministry plans to install 440 Gen-expert machines countrywide by 2016 so as to effectively increase the number of TB cases that will be diagnosed.
Bore expressed fears over a new challenge involved in the development of Multi Drug Resistant TB where the number of cases reported with this rose from 58 cases in 2003 to 144 cases, in 2011.
Bore said the prevention of multidrug resistant (MDR) TB is paramount because of the costs involved in treating it. So far, the Kenyan Government is in the process of creating a facility at Kenyatta National Hospital where cases with MDR TB will be isolated from other cases.
Upon its completion all patients will be able to access it owing to available space and distance to the facility. Bore said: “Additional resources are required to make tools available for the care and treatment of those affected and infected.”
Indeed, as Kenya commemorated the Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24, emphasis was made on the need to broaden the scope within which the Government operates in its management and effective control measures to impede the disease.
“Kenya has made laudable steps in preventing the prevalence of TB in the country, nevertheless there is much that needs to be done to ensure that every Kenyan has access to impartial TB health care,” said Dr Custodia Mandihate, World Health Organisation representative to Kenya. Comparison Mandihate noted that the problem in TB management is not only experienced in Kenya but in the African continent where it accounted for over 26 per cent of notified cases globally in 2011.
She noted that in 2011 alone, over half a million people in the African region, only 62 per cent of the existing cases, were detected with the situation further worsened by the threat of drug resistant TB treatment and multi-drug resistant TB which again continues to complicate treatment of the disease.
Many countries have continued to support Kenya in the fight against TB with Japan playing a major role in financial support.
“This devastating disease strikes people during their most productive years and that is why the Government of Japan will always play a role in the fight against the disease,” said Toshihisa Takata, Ambassador of Japan to Kenya.
He recalled that before the Second World War in 1945, TB was a national disease in Japan, and was the main cause of death. Since then, a lot of efforts have been put in place to curtail the disease.
“However, we still have more than 20,000 new patients each year and lose 3,000 lives from this disease,” said Takata. He attributed the decline to better nutrition, preventive measures and treatment.
This article was originally published in the Reject Online Issue 80