The launch of the national Latent TB Infection (LTBI) guidelines by the government last month has been applauded by affected communities and civil society organisations working on the TB response in the country.
Chief National Coordinator, Stop TB Partnership Kenya Evaline Kibuchi says the guidelines are timely, especially as TB prevention is a solution to those who are vulnerableto TB and therefore at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“We cognizant of the fact that the country is battling the COVID-19 crisis and making strides in protecting individuals with lowered immunities, including people affected by TB and those living with HIV.” The leadership and stewardship that has been shown by government is encouraging.” She said
Kenya ranks high among the 30 countries with the heaviest TB, TB & HIV co-infection and drug resistant-TB (DR-TB) burdens.
The disease affects more than 169,000 people each year and is the fourth leading cause of death, killing nearly 29,000 people annually.
Kenya is signatory to several global level commitments, which are all aimed at supporting it to meet its domestic Sustainable Development Goals. Under the 2018 United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) Declaration, Kenya committed to scaling-up TB prevention to 994 000 persons by 2022. This announcement reaffirms the country’s commitments to ending TB by 2030.
Kibuchi says the government through the National TB and National HIV programmes have shown that they are working in collaborative.
“These programmes are embracing innovations in prevention of TB and in HIV/TB integration efforts.These guidelines forge a way for increased implementation of shorter and faster treatment of latent TB infection, especially in people who are most at risk – those people living with HIV and children under the ages of 5 years old.” She added
“Communities working in HIV and TB have long understood that we cannot control HIV without addressing TB. We are ready and prepared to support the integration efforts of our National TB and HIV programmes” said Patricia Asero, the Chief Executive Officer DACASA Kenya.
She noted that as CSOs and communities affected by TB, they appreciate that in order to promote and sustain efforts at community level, an implementation strategy for the guidelines should be bolstered by a few factors.
First, a comprehensive training support programmes for health and community care workers to support the roll-out of the shorter TB preventive therapies, such as 3HP saying communities can only monitor update when there is infrastructure exists for the patients to facilitate client adherence support.
Also rolling out the LTBI treatment country will require an annual allocation of about USD 3 300 000.
“We appreciate the donation from Partners like the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and PEPFAR for their support to the initiative for the first year of implementation.However, for sustainability, and to achieve the TB goals, we urge the National and County Governments to take up the initiative and invest fully and ensure adequate funding for the procurement the commodities.” She urged
Lastly, support the CSOs and TB communities to create aware for preparedness of uptake and mobilise the communities for uptake of the New therapy.
“We all know that TB is curable. We are also aware that preventive therapy is a better option than having to go through the painful hurdle of being initiated on TB medicines for six months. These investments will not only prevent new infections and avert TB related deaths in Kenya but will have the long-term impact of reduced investment in health and lead to health Kenyan population”
Affected communities and civil society organisations now look forward to the implementation strategy for the LTBI treatment.