MEDICS SENSITIZED ON NEW TB DRUG RESISTANT REGIMEN TO SHORTEN TREATMENT PERIOD

MEDICS SENSITIZED ON NEW TB DRUG RESISTANT REGIMEN TO SHORTEN TREATMENT PERIOD

Lodwar – 6th June 2024 (Public Communication and Media Relations)

The County Tuberculosis program staff have been sensitized on a new drug regimen for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which reduces the treatment period from 18 months to six months.

The World Health Organization approved regimen, BPal/M, will be rolled out by the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Lung Disease Program (NTLD-P) nationwide in July 2024. The BPal/M regimen will lessen the burden on patients and healthcare systems as it increases the likelihood of treatment completion.

According to County Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Lung Diseases Coordinator Dr Job Okemwa, the shorter treatment period will assist patients with a history of defaulting to complete their regimen.

“The county’s MDR-TB treatment success rate of 83% of cure rate. Therefore, the shorter treatment period will lead to higher adherence rates, better treatment outcomes, and a reduced risk of developing further drug resistance,” he said.

He highlighted that mortality rate and lost to follow up contribute to poor outcomes in the management of MDR-TB cases.

In 2023, out of the 684 MDR-TB cases diagnosed across the country, 20 were from Turkana County. This indicates that Turkana County continues one of the ten TB burden counties in Kenya.

The nurse in charge of TB Manyatta, Joy Lipesa, stated that the BPal/M regimen involves fewer drugs, which will boost adherence, make follow-ups easier, and simplify patient tracing.

Located at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital, the manyatta houses MDR-TB patients for 18-20 months as they receive treatment.

However, Lipesa points out that one of the qualifications for the regimen is that the patient should not exhibit severe disease, which would be challenging as most patients are diagnosed when the disease burden is high.

“We have to intensify active case findings at the community level, therefore community health promoters should refer anyone with a prolonged cough for testing,” she said.

Alongside the regimen roll-out, the National TB Program will also provide the county with two x-ray machines to ascertain which MDR-TB cases qualify for BPal/M.

TOBONGU LORE

13TH-14TH AUGUST 2024