Kenya: Experts Raise Alarm Over Spike in TB Cases

Sister Veronicah Wanjiru of Mbungoni Catholic Clinic in Mombasa displays information about tuberculosis on February 26, 2016.
7 October 2020

Health experts are now warning of a surge in tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country.

According to Mr Michael Macharia, a TB technical adviser, Kenya was ranked among the top 30 countries with a high TB burden.

"The country ranks among the top 30 as far as the TB burden among people living with HIV/Aids is concerned," he said, citing the Word Health Organisation report.

He disclosed that a 2015/2016 prevalence survey established that 426 per 100,000 people were infected.

Mr Macharia regretted that despite measures put in place to identify active TB cases, there were still omissions in the processes.

"As of last year, the country's TB incident rate was around 146,000 cases. Out of that number, we are only able to detect 86,000 cases, missing out on almost 60,000 cases," he said.

He termed the variance as a cause for concern, with those affected still living within communities.

The health expert attributed the anomalies to the "quality of screening" in the various facilities and stigma associated with the disease.

"The disease is preventable and curable and those living with disease should seek medical treatment," added Mr Macharia.

Another worrying trend, the health expert said, was that about 60 per cent of children with TB missed out while capturing the vital data.

But, on a positive note, he said preventive therapy had reduced from six to three months, saying this will go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease.

"Tuberculosis preventative therapy works and we have been able to reduce co-infection rate to about 26 per cent from a high of 35 per cent," he said.

He cited funding as a challenge, but praised the government for allocating more money to TB services.

Speaking on the sidelines, Mary Juma, Siaya County TB/leprosy coordinator, said that the majority of the devolved units were yet to embrace TB support programmes.

She called on the counties to be proactive in preventing the disease instead of relying on donor-supported programmes.

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