Kenya launches TB Project to enhance surveillance

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It will now be easier to detect and diagnose Tuberculosis in children under the age of 14 years in the country through a government project.

Under the project -TB REACH Fikia, the government is offering training to health workers to make it easier for them to identify and establish symptoms of the infectious disease in under age children.

The training is being administered by the Ministry of Health programme -National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Lung Disease Program (NTLD) and Centre for Health Solutions (CHS), a non-governmental organization.

The exercise will take three months in its pilot phase and would be implemented in some of the worst affected counties among them Nairobi, Garissa, Machakos, Siaya and Kericho.

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Speaking during the formal launch of the training session in Nairobi, the Program Manager in charge of TB REACH Fikia Ann Masese said children were the most vulnerable group affected by the TB epidemic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 10 and 15 percent of all TB cases worldwide occur to children.

However, case findings are low due to inadequate health care worker knowledge on screening and TB management.

Masese insisted on the need for health care providers to follow up on patients and ensure that they completed their prescribed treatment.

“Not following up on the treatment of TB patients is as good as not giving them treatment at all. Once diagnosed, health workers should intensify follow up on them so that they reduce chances of drug resistance strains developing,” she said.

Only five percent of children under the age of five living in households with TB infections received treatment in 2015, Masese added.

“Any child who has TB got it from an adult, a family member or care giver.  So it is crucial that as each child is diagnosed and put on treatment, the adult is diagnosed as well,” she clarified.

Tuberculosis and Leprosy deputy coordinator with Nairobi County government Martin Mulonzi said that currently, paediatric TB case findings in Kenya were at nine per cent.

However, Mulonzi confirmed that the devolved government is determined to enhance surveillance upwards to 12 percent by end of 2018.

The deputy director recognized the challenge that patients have with accessing x-ray facilities and lauded the TB REACH program for facilitating the costs of x-rays done at private health facilities.

The project intends to utilize ECHO, a video platform as well as a mobile app that would help build capacity within health workers, volunteers and help screen children among communities.

 

 

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