by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's health ministry and partners on Friday pledged a vibrant response to tuberculosis (TB) through improved diagnoses, treatment and management amid rising cases in the country.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu said at an event to mark World TB day that Kenya is committed to achieve zero TB infections and deaths by 2035 through increased funding towards targeted interventions like timely diagnoses, biomedical research and public awareness.
"Kenya is committed to achieve the 2035 End TB targets and this can only be possible if we adopt new measures to revitalize prevention and care," Mailu said, noting that TB is the fourth leading killer in the country.
Kenya is among 17 African countries that account for a quarter of the global TB burden with government statistics indicating that in 2015 alone, the country recorded 80,000 cases.
The first post-independence TB survey conducted in Kenya between 2015 to 2017 revealed a significant rise in new cases among men, urban dwellers and populations aged above 65.
Mailu said the survey findings will help guide future interventions to eliminate TB among high risk groups like slum dwellers, pastoralists and factory workers.
"We need to develop robust and data-driven responses to TB in order to reduce high infection rates and deaths among low-income groups. Similarly, we must review diagnostic and treatment regimen and realign it with emerging challenges like drug resistance," said Mailu.
The East African has explored innovative public-private partnership to strengthen TB prevention, treatment and management in high-burden counties.
Enos Masini, Head of TB Program in the Ministry of Health, said private-sector engagement will stimulate investments in well-equipped health facilities and trained manpower to enhance TB response.
"Mobilization of domestic resources to fund national TB programs has gone a notch higher while multilateral partners have stated their willingness to continue supporting the fight against this killer disease," said Masini.
He noted that Kenya had set a precedent in rolling out home-grown and high-impact interventions to reverse deaths linked to TB.