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Build more isolation centres for TB patients

By The Standard | March 27th 2016

The ruling of a court case outlawing the jailing of TB patients is bound to have far reaching ramifications. While presiding Judge Mumbi Ngugi acknowledged that safeguarding the public from infection and upholding the patients’ rights was a tricky balancing act, she was cognizant of the fact that a penal institution was no place to keep patients as the risk of spreading pathogens increased exponentially as a result of overcrowding.

It is inconceivable that in this day and age, the two of the people on trial — Daniel Ng’etich and Patrick Kipng’etich — were jailed in 2010 for failing to stick to their drug regime. Under this sentence, it was ruled that for the two would stay in prison for eight months or until the satisfactory completion of their TB treatment, whichever occurred sooner.

Whichever way you want to sugarcoat it, this amounts to stigmatisation. It is worth noting that even though the two have now fully recovered from TB, they will get no monetary compensation. We must agree with the petitioners that sending TB patients to prison is widespread and ought to be challenged.

Therefore, the Ministry of Health must work with relevant authorities to develop guidelines that can help patients get treatment at appropriate health centres as isolation facilities are in short supply. Jailing patients for a health affliction is anachronistic and must stop.

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