Turkana County Launches TB Screening in Schools to Tackle High Prevalence Rates
Turkana County, one of the top 10 counties in Kenya with high prevalence rates of tuberculosis (TB), has launched a TB screening outreach program in secondary schools. The initiative aims to increase TB case finding, prevention, and care among school-going children in the county.
The 2015-2016 TB prevalence survey conducted by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the National TB Program identified Turkana County as having a high TB prevalence rate of 776 cases per 100,000 population, which is higher than the national average of 426 cases per 100,000 population. Poverty, poor living conditions, and inadequate access to healthcare services are some of the factors contributing to the high prevalence rates in the county.
TB is a contagious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The crowded nature of schools makes them potential breeding grounds for TB outbreaks. Identifying and treating TB cases early can prevent the spread of the disease within the school and the wider community.
The screening outreach program which was launched on 8th April 2023 runs for two weeks and has been made possible through a joint effort by the National TB Program, AMREF Health Africa and the County Government of Turkana. Clinical officers, public health officers, lab officers, and community health volunteers are involved in the screening process. The Program is working closely with school administrations to implement the screening process.
According to Job Okwemwa, Turakana County TB Coordinator, early detection of TB can lead to timely treatment, reducing the risk of complications and long-term health problems. “
“TB screening in schools is a vital step towards protecting the health of students and staff members and preventing further transmission within the school community. With the screening program in place, Turkana County hopes to tackle its high TB prevalence rates and contribute towards ending TB in Kenya,” he notes.
By Dorcas Kurui – NTP