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West Pokot County fights high 11% TB infection rate

West Pokot County fights high 11% TB infection rate

Kapenguria,

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

KNA by Anthony Melly

West Pokot County Executive for Health and Sanitation Paul Woyakapel has decried the high tuberculosis (TB) and HIV infection rate in the County that currently stands at 11 percent, with five percent of patients succumbing to the disease.

Mr Woyakapel said in 2023, West Pokot reported 1,617 drug- sensitive TB cases, with 220 of them being child patients accounting for 14 percent of overall prevalence in the county.

The Health Executive said that the county’s treatment success rate for TB in 2022 was 80 percent with cure rate of 65 percent, but added that the county still experienced loss of lives from TB cases that were five percent.

Mr Woyakapel also noted that up to 60 percent of TB patients are malnourished which makes it a heavy toll for their recovery. He said the County has identified hotspot sites for screening of TB including GK Prison, Rimis Goldmines and Kanyerus in Pokot North, Cheptuya in West Pokot subcounty and Kambi Karaya in Pokot Central adding that 80 schools have been reached for public awareness messages.

Health and Sanitation Chief officer(CO) Nelly Soprin highlighted that West Pokot is one of the counties with a high rate of tuberculosis (TB) infection. Ms Soprin further emphasised that Kenya is among the 15 countries globally with a high prevalence of TB.

Soprin reiterated that the primary challenge faced by the county in terms of infection rates is the reluctance by citizens to visit hospitals for screening.

She encouraged residents to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms such as coughing, sweating, or unexplained weight loss, as these could be signs of TB infection.

The Chief Officer specifically mentioned that Kapenguria County Referral Hospital among other health facilities across the county offers free TB screening services.

Soprin said the cost of TB medication for an infected individual is approximately Sh40,000, but added the government has committed to covering this expense and made TB treatment free in all public health facilities.

She stated the importance of raising awareness within the local community to prevent and treat TB effectively. The CO said that individuals living with HIV infection often have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases such as TB noting that it is important for them to undergo screening to determine their health status in relation to TB.

She highlighted that those in need of TB screening and treatment can receive medical assistance at any government health facility in the county for free.

Soprin explained that adults are the most affected by TB cases and are also the main source of transmission, while children are less affected.

She said that Pokot Central Sub County is leading in cases of TB infections, followed by Pokot North, Pokot central, West Pokot and Pokot South sub counties.

The Chief Officer indicated that the county is currently executing essential measures to decrease the occurrences of TB in the community by means of contact tracing and TB preventive therapy which involve tracing and inviting all individuals who have been in contact with TB patients to the health facility, where they will undergo TB screening. If TB is ruled out, they will be provided with preventive treatment.

Mr Woyakapel ,Ms Soprin and Kapenguria Division Assistant County commissioner Ruth Wachera commemorated the World TB Day 2024 at Talau county Dispensary. This year’s global theme is: ‘‘Yes, we can end TB!’’.

Courtesy; KNA

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