Kenya’s secret tool in war against TB

A medical worker at a mobile testing facilities for TB. PHOTO | AFP

Kenya’s success in reducing tuberculosis cases and deaths has been attributed to an active case finding programme.

In the programme, everybody is screened for TB and those found to be suffering from the disease put on medication.

In the latest Global TB report, the incidence in the country has been found to be going down as it gets on track to eradicating the disease.

World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes the reduction to increased treatment among people who have contracted the disease.

This was as a result of improved detection and diagnosis, said WHO in the report. “In Kenya, there has been a change of tact in tackling TB. Everybody is being screened for the contagious disease and those who are found to be infected put on treatment,” said Evaline Kibuchi, the Chief National Coordinator for Stop TB Partnership-Kenya during an interview with HealthyNation.

According to the report, Kenya is among the seven high burden countries globally which have made strides in tackling the disease. The other countries which made significant strides were Lesotho, Myanmar, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The report states that 150,000 Kenyans fell ill with TB in 2018 while 33,000 died in the same year. Unfortunately, most of the people contracting and dying from the disease were HIV negative contrary to assumptions that TB mostly infects HIV positive people.


In effect, 40,000 people with HIV fell ill with TB in 2018 compared to 110,000 negative people. Out of the 33,000 who died from the disease, 20,000 were HIV negative and 13,000 HIV positive people died from the airborne ailment.

Among HIV positive TB patients, 24,950 got notified and 24,186 who were notified were on antiretroviral treatment.

In 2017, 158,000 people got infected and 43,000 died from TB, a majority of whom were HIV negative (25,000).

TB treatment in Kenya currently stands at 63 per cent. Away from increased treatment, awareness creation, and the incorporation of TB programmes in the county health system in 2018 during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, Kenya made a commitment to end TB by 2030.

But poor health seeking behaviour and lifestyle among men may “clawback” the gains. In 2018, more than half of the people who got TB were men (59 per cent) compared to women and children combined at 28 per cent and 13 per cent in that order.

“Men hardly go to hospital, but women go to hospital frequently,” said Ms Kibuchi.

Also, Kenya’s TB budget remains low as a majority of TB projects remain unfunded.