Recent statistics released by the World Health Organisation ranked tuberculosis(TB) as the deadliest communicable disease globally, ahead of HIV/AIDS and Malaria. The statistics revealed that TB claims approximately 1.6 million lives annually compared to HIV/AIDS and Malaria which stand at 940,000 and 435,000 respectively.
Local health experts attributed the rise of this epidemic to poverty and poor policies during the commemoration of the world TB day, organized by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture Medical Students Association (JKUSMA) Thursday, March 21, 2019 at the University.
It was also revealed during the event that the biggest challenge to alleviating this disease, is the lack of knowledge and the mythical perception surrounding the disease in some of the African traditions, which discourages a huge number of disease carriers and patients from attending regular hospital check-ups and treatment.
Dr. Patrick Mburugu, a paediatric don at JKUAT, urged the students and the community members to attend regular health check-ups, revealing that everyone is susceptible to the opportunistic disease which can be fatal when the immunity of the body is low.
Dr. Mburugu called upon the health practitioners to engage in an extensive TB sensitization exercise in the community in order to increase TB awareness while demystifying the false myths surrounding the stubborn disease.
“I urge each and every one of you to set a huge target and carry out an extensive awareness of TB around the University and the community while carrying out screening and counselling them on the importance of routine health check-ups,” said Dr. Mburugu
Another speaker, Dr. Tiberry Nyakwana, a lecturer of Clinical Medicine in COHES, and a specialist of Epilepsy at JKUAT, revealed that early diagnosis and treatment of TB can significantly reduce the cost up to 2 million Kenya shillings per person while also eliminating the chances of disease relapse, drug resistance and elimination of infection
Dr. Nyakwana called for advocacy at the research level citing the need to find innovative ways of generating a permanent solution to TB, pointing out the current inadequate diagnostics and treatment of the disease as a setback.
National Program Coordinator, Stop TB Partnership Kenya, Evaline Kibuchi, said it was time to perceive TB as a development issue rather than a medical issue in order to create more thrust in the pursuit of better policies in the fight against TB.
The Chairperson, JKUSMA, Vincent Mwima, underscored the significance of such forums to aspiring health practitioners in creating meaningful networks and bringing cohesion between the University and the Community, by supporting the University achieve its corporate social responsibilities.
The event was jointly sponsored and organized by Stop TB Partnership Kenya, Amref, Student Health Clubs for Nursing, Pharmacy, Medical Microbiology, Medicine and Surgery and the National TB Program, Kiambu County.