New Partnership Targets TB in Kenya and around the World
The IRC has partnered with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Rollins School of Public Health to develop and pilot a new monitoring and evaluation tool, which comprises simple-to-use, standardized worksheets for all aspects of a TB control program.
Dr Vincent Kahi, IRC’s health coordinator for Kenya, says: “What’s unique about this tool is that it helps organizations assess their entire TB programs - from diagnosis and patient care, to prevention and ensuring the completion of a full course of treatment. It’s a one-stop-shop and has been designed in a way that’s practical and easy to use.”
The tool was piloted in the Greater Turkana district of northern Kenya. Kenya had 140,548 new cases of TB in 2006, and Greater Turkana is particularly affected due to its high rates of malnutrition (c. 25%) which makes the population more susceptible to disease.
The high mobility of the population is also an issue. Constantly moving nomadic and refugee communities find it hard to access a full, eight-month course of treatment. And, if they fail to complete the course, they leave themselves open to multi-drug resistant TB – where the disease develops resistance to some treatments, making it much harder to fight.
The tool is currently being refined based on the pilot in Kenya and, once finalized, will be rolled out to other international organizations.
“This is an exciting opportunity to share our findings with others who are trying to fight TB around the world,” says Dr Kahi. “Thanks to our partnership with CDC and Rollins, we really believe this tool could provide a simple, consistent way for everyone to monitor, evaluate and improve their TB programs.”
While piloting the new tool, IRC health teams also carried out three training sessions for more than 100 health workers and volunteers in Greater Turkana. The sessions covered knowledge of TB transmission and symptoms, TB treatment, the effects of not completing a full course of treatment, the relationship between HIV and TB, and the stigma surrounding TB.
The IRC’s HIV/AIDS program currently serves a target population of about 150,000 people in Greater Turkana.