Combating the TB scourge in Kenya

On a typical day, Kijabe Hospital’s outpatient department will be bustling with dozens of patients from across the country. Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, are a common reason for seeking care at the facility. Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most common causes of deaths in Kenya. However, it is a challenging disease to diagnose because it starts out as a regular cough and mimics many other diseases.

African Mission Healthcare Foundation conducts an intense training on diagnosis and treatment of TB to improve on detection of cases and reduce mortality. This training targets front line health workers and seeks to fill a gap in knowledge and skills on TB management.

James Jasper Ajigo is a healthcare worker (clinical officer) at Africa Inland Church Kijabe hospital, which is the base facility for AMHF’s training and mentorship program. He was nominated by the hospital to attended the TB training in May 2017. James has practiced health for several years including managing patients with tuberculosis.

“I thought I understood TB well. However it was clear as the training progressed that there was so much I needed to be doing for my patients. In fact, I realized I had failed to properly diagnose patients with TB infection,” said James.

Before the training, James had the understanding that TB mostly affected those with HIV infection. He quickly learnt that this was not correct because the available data indicated the majority of TB patients were not HIV infected.

James developed a plan with support form the facilitator to sensitize his colleagues in the clinic, with an emphasis on early identification of TB cases. He committed to hold sessions with the clinicians to build their competence.

James tells the story of an elderly patient who had been treated in various facilities for 3 months for various chest related illnesses. When she came to Kijabe Hospital, she saw James. He took her detailed history and physical examination and diagnosed TB. He started her on medication. She improved in a matter of days.

“If I had seen the patient before the training, I would probably not have made the correct decision,” James notes.

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