Drug defaulters affecting war on TB

Busia, Kenya: Twenty-four cases of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) tuberculosis have been reported in the county between 2006 and 2015.

Making the revelation, County Director of Health Melissa Lutomia said the cases are as a result of high drug defaulter rates among those diagnosed with the disease.

Speaking at Malaba dispensary, Teso North sub-county Dr Lutomia said MDR and Extensive Drug Resistant (XTR) TB are a reality in the county and need concerted efforts from all stakeholders to combat them.

The first two patients of the XTR in Kenya were diagnosed in Bunyala in 2011 and have all since passed on.

"Out of the 24 MDR cases, only 14 have been cured, four are still on treatment while the rest have died," she said.

She cautioned patients against abandoning drugs once they have been diagnosed to prevent further spread of the disease and development of the drug resistant strains.

"The public and other stakeholders need to be alert and adhere to this year's theme of 'Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone' if we have to attain a high treatment success rate and reduce TB transmission rates," she said.

The county's TB treatment success rate stands at 82 per cent against 90 per cent nationally.

The director revealed that annually, Busia records 1,500 TB detections with 12 per cent being children.

"That figure is still very low. I still believe that a third of that number is still deep there in the villages undiagnosed. We can only be able to reach them if we all dedicate our efforts towards creating awareness and fighting the epidemic," she advised.

Health Executive Maurice Siminyu urged the public to willingly come out and get tested rather than wait till they are very sick.

"The public must understand that TB does not only affect the chest but all the body parts apart from nails and hair. It is, therefore, recommended that one goes for testing once the symptoms develop in order to be treated early as the disease is curable," said Dr Siminyu.

He said more screening centers and laboratories are being opened at the health centres so as to enhance disease testing services.

He said plans are underway to establish integrated clinics to handle both HIV and Aids and TB so as to alleviate the cost burden of those affected.