THE first treatment programme for the Multidrug-Resistant Tuberclosis has been rolled out.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Centre for Disease Control say they expect to treat some 307 confirmed cases of the disease. Albert Okumu the KEMRI-CDC TB laboratory manager yesterday said they have collected over 758 specimens for testing in Nyanza Province six months after the launch of the search for MDR cases in the region.
Okumu says out of the specimens received for testing, 610 were tested for Mycobacterium Tuberculosis of which 307 specimens were found positive and not resistant. Drug resistant specimens are put on trial on ionized drug, an antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis. He said treatment is on going for 15 MDR cases while 15 others have been diagnosed for other forms of resistance and seven people are already in the list.
Drug-resistant TB develops when patients do not complete the full six-month treatment course when they are first diagnosed with active TB. They then require treatment lasting around 18 months with second-line drugs, which are much more expensive. "These patients need to be followed and monitored closely. When treatment has started, it requires serious monitoring every month for the next eight months,"Okumu said. "The treatment is complicated. It needs trained dedicated health workers, isolation wards, feeding... You need to test culture and drug acceptability. If you don't manage, your patients will die." he said.
Kenya is treating some 290 MDR-TB cases out of the 320 identified at a cost of over Sh1.7 million per patient, compared to the Sh6,420 for a course of first-line drugs. It is estimated the country has more than 2,000 cases of MDR-TB and is ranked at position 10 by the World Health Organisation on TB prevalence, the first among East African states. Okumu was speaking at the KEMRI/CDC in Kisumu during a media briefing where he said the emergence of the multi-drug-resistant TB is posing a great threat to TB treatment especially in Nyanza province where TB cases are on the rise.