Ministry rolls out new TB screening, diagnosis and treatment tools

The fight against Tuberculosis (TB) has received a boost after the Ministry of Health launched the latest package of innovation tools valued at US$1.6 million (Kes189 million) in a bid to eradicate the disease.

The initiative, which is a collaboration between the National TB Program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Stop TB Partnership and the Centre for Health Solutions – Kenya (CHS), consists of tools for screening, diagnosis, and prevention meant to support research.

The TB tools project will see Kenya benefit from lightweight portable digital chest X-ray equipment kits with software for computer-aided detection of TB, medication sleeves for 5,000 patients with TB, and connectivity solutions for all TB diagnostic equipment.

Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman noted that case finding and lab diagnosis form the backbone of quality patient care and disease surveillance underscoring the need to equip health care workers with skills to manage TB.

“As a country, we have made notable achievements in these areas of diagnosis and treatment of TB and TN Preventive Treatment. On Diagnosis and Treatment, in 2021: 7,491 children under 15 years out of a target of 15,200; 49 percent were diagnosed with TB & put on treatment.”

“We need to continue training our front-line health care workers to be aware of the new Technology, screening of patients, and Prevention to improve and sustain the quality of care and optimize the gains towards TB prevention,” added Dr Aman.

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The CAS also highlighted the need for development partners to continue funding programs on TB even as the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Globally, in 2020, 10 million people developed TB and 1.7 million deaths occurred. Kenya is one of the high burden TB countries in the world, with about 21,000 people dying in 2020, four times the number of coronavirus fatalities. This is equivalent to 58 Kenyans dying of TB every day.

Similarly, Kenya notified 72,943 TB cases of whom eight percent or 5,663 were children. The 2016 prevalence survey showed that the country nearly misses 40 percent of the estimated cases.

TB is spread through droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. It remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, killing more people than HIV/Aids and malaria combined.

TB symptoms include a cough, fever, night sweats and loss of weight. A person with active TB can infect five to 15 others through close contact.

In 2021, according to the WHO, Covid-19 reversed years of global progress in tackling tuberculosis, making deaths from the illness shoot up for the first time in 10 years.

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