TB threat among Kenyan children

March 24, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Official government statistics indicate that about 15,000 children in Kenya were reported with TB last year.

Head of Division of Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Lung disease at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Joseph Sitienei said on Tuesday that 11 percent of all the reported TB cases in the country involved children below 15 years of age.

Addressing Journalists after the official commemoration of World TB day in Kibera, Dr Sitienei said children don’t transmit TB but get infected from adults.

“TB in children manifests in very different and bizarre ways. One, the child does not develop and grow and we call this delayed milestone,” he explained.

“You also have glands that grow in the body of the child, around the neck, in the armpits and in the groin area. These are glands that are infected with the germ that causes TB and in some cases they burst and you see some pus flowing down the side of the neck,” Dr Sitienei explained.

He said children do not present themselves with symptoms like those of adults who cough a lot.

The TB head said the government had now put in place a TB working group to focus specifically on issues that affect children and control of TB transmission within households so that children don’t catch the infection.

“We do not have a gold standard diagnostic tool that can say whether or not a child has TB. We routinely use the common old technology where we use chest x- ray,” he said.

“But then doing a chest x ray is an easier thing, interpreting the results of the chest x-ray is even more complicated because in Kenya we still have a very acute shortage of radiologists who can interpret what the chest x-ray says,” he added.

Dr Sitienei said depending on the outcome of the chest x- ray they are able to give the right medication.

“For the first time last year we got medicines which are specific for children. Previously, we have had tablets for adults being broken down for children to consume.”


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