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Kenya leads way towards a TB free generation

Kenya is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to meet WHO targets

TB remains the fourth leading cause of death in Kenya

Kenya has made remarkable strides in combating TB, with 1.2 million diagnoses and successful treatment of one million patients, preventing over 500,000 deaths.

These achievements in the last 10 years position Kenya as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to meet World Health Organization (WHO) targets for TB case detection and treatment success.

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According to Public Health and Professional Standards PS Mary Muthoni, the infectious disease continues to be a significant public health challenge in Kenya, impacting families and communities with its devastating effects.

TB remains the fourth leading cause of death in Kenya, with drug-resistant TB posing a persistent challenge.

She attributes the progress in the fight against TB to accessible free testing and treatment services across over 4,000 public and private health facilities have been instrumental in this success.

To enhance TB testing services further, the government has introduced 120 GeneXpert machines for rapid testing of TB and its drug-resistant variants, making Kenya a leader in Africa in leveraging modern technology for TB diagnosis.

“Quality assurance measures ensure adherence to standards, while the availability of digital X-ray machines in all counties bolsters testing services nationwide. Recognizing the significant overlap between TB and HIV, joint TB/HIV activities have been prioritized” she says.

She adds that over 94pc of TB patients have been tested for HIV, with over 93pc receiving life-saving anti-retroviral therapy in the last five years.

“This integrated approach has not only positioned Kenya as a global leader in TB/HIV control but also reduced the TB/HIV co-infection rate by half over the past decade”.

Kenya’s proactive measures extend to preventive treatment for people living with HIV, with nearly 400,000 individuals enrolled in preventive treatment using Isoniazid, marking the nation as the second-largest program of its kind globally.

A significant concern has been TB among children, with nearly 7,000 cases reported in infants and children in 2015. To address this, Kenya is pioneering the use of child-friendly TB medicines, starting October 1st, ensuring appropriate doses and flavors suitable for children.

This initiative aims to improve treatment adherence, reduce mortality among children, and mitigate the risk of drug-resistant TB.

“Many cases go undetected due to delayed health facility visits or lack of awareness. Early detection is crucial, with symptoms such as cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats warranting immediate attention. To accelerate progress, concerted efforts are needed across sectors to advocate for improved access to TB prevention, testing, and treatment services” the PS notes.

“By uniting as a nation, Kenya aims to bring TB out of the shadows and pave the way for a TB-free generation. Together, we can achieve this milestone and ensure a healthier future for all Kenyans” Muthoni assures.

While primarily affecting the lungs, TB can affect various parts of the body and is transmitted through the air when infected individuals cough.

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