21 January 2016

Kenya: Man to Serve 6 Months in Jail for Refusing to Take TB Drugs

A court in Meru has jailed a 35-year-old man for six months for failing to take tuberculosis medicine saying that he wanted to die.

Nicolas Mwirigi was diagnosed with TB at the Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital in 2015 but has been refusing to take his medication.

Public health officers from Imenti North who had been hunting for him for the last seven months arrested him in Mjini Estate in Meru County on January 20, 2016.

He had escaped from his Katheri home after realising the health officers were looking for him.

When he appeared before Meru Principal Magistrate Joseph Karanja Thursday, Mwirigi pleaded guilty of failing to take proper precaution and exposing the public to an infectious disease.

He told the court that he was not comfortable living with the disease and decided not to take the drugs intentionally as wanted to die.

Prosecution counsel James Murage asked the court to give the accused a jail term of not less than eight months to allow him finish the medication.

"He should be given six months to finish his medication and an extra two months to allow medics monitor his health condition before he is released," he said.


However the magistrate convicted the accused to six months at Meru Prison and ordered that he be under special medication and be monitored by health experts.

The accused was given 14 days to appeal.

Imenti North Public Health Officer (PHO) Charles Kajita told the Nation that the department was concerned because the patient had a high chance of infecting the public with the disease.

"We got the information from the District TB and Leprosy Coordinator that the patient was diagnosed with the disease but refused to take his medication.

"We were concerned because he was in phase two of TB treatment which is highly infectious and that is why we decided to hunt for him for more than seven months now," said the public health officer.

He said Mwirigi avoided MTRH and when his condition worsened he sought medication from other health facilities.

"Records shows that he went to Githongo, Nkubu and Kibirichia medical facilities but after being directed to take the pills he avoided the facilities completely and sought health services elsewhere," he said.


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