A report on the Devolved Testing Project aimed at enhancing access to simultaneous screening for COVID-19 and tuberculosis (TB) in Mombasa, Machakos, Kajiado, and Nairobi counties has been launched.
This innovative initiative, led by Community Health Promoters, focused on utilizing Ag-RDTs (Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Tests) and establishing a comprehensive linkage to care system.
Running for a period of three months, the study was conducted by JKUAT through the Digital Health Applied Research Centre (DHARC), funded by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and supported by the Ministry of Health. During the period, the project managed to screen and test 182,000 individuals in the four counties.
Speaking during the launch, May 16, 2023, Principal Investigator of the study, Prof. Simon Karanja, highlighted the project’s ambition to revolutionize the approach to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and TB by leveraging door-to-door testing and health facility testing at levels 2 and 3.
“Involving Community Health Promoters as leaders in this initiative, the project strived to bridge the gap between healthcare facilities and the communities they serve. These dedicated individuals played a vital role in conducting door-to-door testing, ensuring that individuals who may not have easy access to healthcare facilities still benefited from regular screenings,” said Prof. Karanja.
Lauding the researchers’ efforts, the Ag. Director General for Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, said the study provided opportunities with regard to community-based health initiatives at a time when there is a paradigm shift from curative to preventive healthcare.
“By implementing comprehensive screening strategies that address both COVID-19 and TB simultaneously, we can optimize resources, reduce the burden on healthcare systems, and enhance the overall well-being of communities,” said Dr. Amoth.
The success of the devolved testing project in the four counties was further amplified by the utilization of digital tools for data collection and transmission in real time. Community Health Promoters were equipped with innovative technologies that streamlined the entire process, allowing for efficient and accurate data capture.
Dr. Amoth expressed appreciation for the digital component of the study, acknowledging the historical challenges associated with referring patients to appropriate healthcare facilities.
He emphasized that utilizing digital tools in community health initiatives ensures an efficient and effective referral system, facilitating swift decision-making and empowering prompt interventions based on evolving community needs.
On his part, FIND Kenya, Executive Director, Prof. Joseph Mathu Ndung’u appreciated the collaborative efforts among JKUAT, Ministry of Health, the four Counties and Community Health Promoters saying, the project represented a significant step forward in expanding access to COVID-19 and TB screening.
“Testing continues to play a pivotal role in the overall approach to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and TB globally. The accurate and timely identification of individuals infected with these highly contagious diseases is crucial for effective containment and treatment,” said Dr. Ndung’u.
Also speaking during the meeting was Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, Project Manager, FIND, Ms. Kekeletso Kao, Consultant, FIND, Ms. Paula Akugizibwe, Dr. Musa Mohamed of the Ministry of Health, Mombasa, Machakos, Kajiado, and Nairobi counties Health Directors, among others.
Under the leadership of Prof. Karanja, the project was implemented by a team of multidisciplinary researchers, including Dr. Jane Aduda, Dr. Reuben Thuo, Prof. Fred Wamunyokoli, Prof. Gideon Kikuvi, Mr. Henry Kissinger, Dr. Joseph Matheri, Dr. Susan Mambo, Ms. Esther Gichaiya, Dr. Joseph Machua, Dr. David Kamau, Dr. Susan Mwelu, and Mr. Philip Oyier.
Their collaborative efforts contributed to the success of the project and its potential to make a significant impact in the field of healthcare.