Thika residents have been encouraged to have frequent screening for Tuberculosis and other chest related infections as the world marks World Tuberculosis Day 2023.
With the theme of this year’s world TB Day being ‘Yes, we can end TB’, the residents were sensitized on the importance of TB testing and screening, especially for those in contact with someone who has the disease, those with HIV or other medical conditions that supress the immune system, as TB is a highly infectious disease.
‘The Government of Kenya together with other partners have ensured that Tuberculosis testing and screening is free of charge at government hospitals. Therefore, anyone who suspects they might have the disease should visit the chest clinics for testing. There is no age limit where testing is concerned. We particularly encourage the elderly and children under the age of fourteen to come for testing as there has been a surge of the bacteria in these age groups,’ said Dr. Samuel Mwangi, a clinician at Thika Level 5 chest clinic.
Patients that are found to be positive are then treated free of charge and offered mental, physical and financial support through the comprehensive care clinic (CCC), which follows up on them to make sure that they take their medication as prescribed until the full course of treatment is completed.
The CCC also does contact tracing, whereby the health professionals advise those who have been in contact with the patient to visit the clinic for testing. If found positive, the necessary course of treatment is then administered.
If found negative, preventative measures are then taken to ensure they do not contract the disease. Medication is then administered to the patient once a week for twelve weeks as this is the required preventative dose.
‘TB resistance is also a major problem that we encounter and this is mainly due to non-compliance with the treatment regimens prescribed to a patient. In the case where a patient refuses to take the medications prescribed to them, the law is very clear. The patient will be detained by a public health officer at a facility where they will be monitored and forced to take the necessary medications until they are no longer a threat to the health of the public,’ said Dr. Mwangi.
The rise in TB infections has been attributed to the fact that Tuberculosis is still highly stigmatised and people infected with the disease tend to hide the symptoms for fear of being shunned by the society leading to delayed diagnosis or even death in extreme cases.
Reducing the stigma and discrimination is therefore essential as it hinders care seeking, contact tracing, outbreak investigations and treatment initiation.
The residents were therefore educated on the myths surrounding the disease, its symptoms and treatment as an effective approach geared towards protecting their rights and as a cornerstone of effective patient centred care.
Source: Kenya News Agency