Kenya’s new advanced technologies shows promise against tuberculosis

KENYA – The Centre for Health Solutions-Kenya (CHS), the Ministry of Health National TB Program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Stop TB Partnership have teamed up to launch the Introducing New Tools Project (iNTP) in Kenya aimed at eliminating tuberculosis (TB).

Under the health project, Kenya has secured digital health technologies worth US$1.6M to support the Ministry of Health’s commitment to end tuberculosis in the country, breakdown barriers to accessing healthcare services in remote areas while strengthening TB care in Kenya.

Kenya’s Health Ministry Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Rashid Aman unveiled a package of the latest innovations in the diagnostic and treatment of tuberculosis including eight ultra-portable digital chest X-ray machines designed to allow for better operation in hard-to-reach locations.

The health sector has received a major boost following the acquisition of the battery-powered digital chest x-ray machines that emit lower doses of radiation and the portable devices can easily be transported into the field to facilitate the detection of TB in hard-to-reach populations.

The digital chest x-ray machines are designed for operation in peripheral laboratories with minimal infrastructure and are easy-to-use for minimally trained lab technicians. In addition, the advanced machines use room-temperature stable reagents and generate TB results in one hour.

The healthcare package also contained digital technologies such as Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) recommended by WHO for use in people aged 15 years and older, Digital Adherence Technology (DATs) and Two Interferon Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs) that can be used in the fight against tuberculosis.

For instance, the DAT technology allows TB patients to notify their health care providers about their medication intake by calling or texting a toll-free number and in turn empowers the patients to take their medication at a time and place that is convenient for them.

Other medical devices unveiled include 38 Truenats Machines which are the first WHO-recommended rapid molecular test for the detection of tuberculosis along with rifampicin resistance used at a peripheral level to support the fight against the highly contagious disease.

The three-month rifampicin-isoniazid (3RH) regimen was found to be a valuable alternative to the six-month isoniazid (6H) regimen for preventing tuberculosis in young children since the shorter regimen can facilitate better adherence and is available as a fixed dose combination tablet that is child friendly.

During the big launch in Mathare in Nairobi County, CAS Rashid Aman stated that Kenya has benefitted through the newly acquired tools for TB screening, diagnosis and prevention treatment courses for TB preventative therapy while noting that the 3RH regimen will benefit 13,000 persons.

He further said that TB case finding and laboratory diagnosis forms the backbone of quality patient care and disease surveillance, noting that health care workers need to be well equipped with skills and knowledge to operate, service and interpret patient results for better management of patients.

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