Kenya short of resistant TB drugs

May 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Kenya does not have medicines to place more patients with Multi Drug Resistant TB on treatment and is now turning away new admissions.

Dr Joseph Sitienei who heads the Division of Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Lung disease at the Ministry of Public Health, told Capital News that the only drugs available are for 40 patients who are already on treatment.

“Anybody who has not started on the MDR-TB treatment cannot access it because the medicines that are available are only for the patients who have started the treatment but not for new ones,” Dr Sitienei emphasised.

“But we have enough MDR-TB drugs for the 40 patients who are already on treatment. In fact we are getting an extra consignment in the next few weeks,” he added.

However, a source at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) had told Capital News that the current drugs are not even enough for the 27 patients (out of the 40 undergoing treatment) and they were being sent away.

“The ration for the 27 patients who are on treatment at KNH is fully exhausted and we are now sending the patients away,” the source had indicated.

But Dr Sitienei insisted that they were lacking drugs to cater for any more new patients other than the 40 who were on treatment at KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

“Nobody should panic that we don’t have these medicines. What we are trying to do right now is to increase the number of patients who will be on treatment using this new MDR-TB treatment and we already have a green light to increase the number of patients on treatment,” Dr Sitienei said.

The government gets the MDR -TB drugs through the Global Fund.

Dr Sitienei said a team of Global Fund officials from Geneva was due in the country next month to confirm that the treatment for the 40 patients was on course so as to give a go ahead for more medicines.

“Therefore in a maximum of four months we should be able to enrol more of these patients because they do not come overnight, these medicines have to be manufactured and shipped into the country and they are not readily available in the world market,” he emphasised.

The number of Multi Drug Resistant TB patients in Kenya, which is a more complicated type of TB that resists treatment, had gone up to close to 500 in 2008.

Meanwhile, the MDR-TB patient admitted at the Kenyatta National hospital who has refused to take medication has now turned extremely violent and become unmanageable according to hospital authorities.

KNH Chief Public Relations Officer Simon Ithai told Capital News that the man had now become extremely hostile to anybody who gets close to him.

He insisted that action should be taken to get the 36- year-old patient who is also a remandee out of the hospital.

“He is breaking windows; he has done it severally in the room he occupies and it is a serious issue because even the hospital doesn’t have a holding facility for such a person who is actually maliciously spreading the disease to other people,” he said.

Mr Ithai said negotiations were still ongoing with relevant government authorities.

“The patient should be charged again for this intended spread of the disease. Our government should actually move in and find a lasting solution,” he said.


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