, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation now says it is in the process of decentralising testing services for the Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis to ease congestion at the central TB testing unit which is based at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
Minister Beth Mugo revealed on Wednesday that the plan is also expected to provide high quality services to Kenyans and escalate the fight against the disease.
She pointed out that although Kenya has made good progress in the fight against the disease, a lot needs to be done as statistics show that there were over 4,000 deaths last year.
“My ministry, in partnership with the World Bank, is also decentralising TB culture services from the only laboratory in Nairobi to five additional laboratories scattered through out the country,” she said. “Through these efforts, services for TB care will be closer to the people than ever before.”
She further said that the government has stepped up surveillance for the Multi Drug Resistant TB to stop its spread.
“Surveillance for Drug Resistant types of TB especially MDR which is becoming a major problem in Kenya is also set to improve. MDR TB is perhaps the biggest challenge that we are likely to face in the future. Therefore all efforts must be made to stop it from spreading now and not tomorrow,” she stated.
She was speaking ahead of the world TB Day set to take place on Saturday where she stated that measures have also been put in place to enable those going for TB tests to know the results quickly.
“My Ministry has embarked on new measures to further reduce transmission of TB in the community through provision of more rapid and user friendly tests that can produce the results within a day,” she said.
A TB patient having the Multi Drug Resistance strain in the meantime narrated how the condition has changed his life.
Speaking at the press briefing, Samuel Irungu said that he has had to cut off ties with his family to avoid infecting them.
“I am a married person and I am forced to separate from my family. I have two children but I cannot stay with them in the same house to avoid infection untill I complete the treatment. I do not even have time to socialise with them or to know their problems well,” he recalled.
“Professionally I am a hotelier but I was forced to drop the job first to complete the treatment.”
He stated that the drugs are sometimes too strong for his system but he still has to take them.
“These drugs exert a heavy toll on me. I take eighteen tablets every day. In the morning I take 13 and before I sleep I take five. They are all very strong and they are different types,” he said.
“At night you cannot sleep. They disturb me very much. When I walk, I feel tired and there are side effects like irregular bowel movements.”