Dilemma in Kenya over TB patient

May 26, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Human right groups have called on the government to ensure that a remandee patient admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) with a highly contagious type of TB but has refused to take his medication, is put on quarantine.

Independent Medico-Legal Unit Executive Director, Sam Mohochi told Capital News on Monday that this would be in the best interests of the country.

“This is a dilemma we are in and I think the government should take this case more seriously by putting in place a system that shall not only afford this particular patient his rights but shall also protect the rights of many other Kenyans,” Mr Mohochi said.

“The man in question remains a convict and the prisons authority cannot run away from this particular case,” he added.

Last week, nurses at the referral hospital expressed fear for their lives due to the high risk of exposure from the patient, who has resorted to deliberately smearing sputum on the wall and floor of his hospital room, frustrating the efforts of health workers.

“To me these are just job hazards. Their employer, which is the State in this case, should now equip them and ensure that they are not exposed to this particular instant virus,” Mr Mohochi said. 

Kenya National Human Rights Commission Chairperson Florence Jaoko on the other hand said the issue was more of a public health concern than human rights, and called for a solution that would prevent other people from getting infected.

“In my view whatever decision is made should take into account of course the interest of the patient, but also the interest of those who are working there and the society at large because of the nature of the disease and its resistance to drugs,” she said.

Last week, the management at the referral hospital threatened to discharge the patient if the prisons department does not take him back.

The 36-year old man was first admitted to the hospital in October 2007, where he initially took his medication.

But beginning mid 2008, he turned aggressive and violent, refusing to take his medication even under supervision and the patient now risks developing complications that could lead to his death.

Currently, it costs about Sh1.3 million to treat a single patient suffering from the multi-drug resistant TB.


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