How Kenyans battling TB are avoiding hospitals for fear of contracting Covid-19

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Kenyans battling Tuberculosis (TB) are shying away from seeking treatment at health facilities for fear of contracting Covid-19.

Victor Nyambati, TB coordinator Starehe sub county, while speaking to Ghetto Radio news has revealed that even some patients who were already on a treatment programme are shying away from visiting facilities.

According to Nyambati, many fear that they may test positive for Covid-19 owing to the similarity of the two disease’s symptoms.

“The number of the patients in the program has really gone down. Those who were already on a treatment plan also fear coming to refill their medication for fear of contracting the deadly Covid-19. The current situation has also bore challenges in terms of detecting new infections. This is because those who have TB like symptoms are avoiding health facilities thinking that they will be tested and they will turn out positive for Covid-19” he said

Nyambati who is currently based at Ngara health center says that different stakeholders have now come together to sensitize the community on TB awareness.

The team has come up with four strategies to educate communities on the importance of early diagnosis of TB and to assure them that their well being is prioritized.

“We have come up with four main strategies to handle the matter. Number one is encourage them that there is need for testing and treatment if free. The second we have put in place a toll free number to call for more information on TB. This number is 0800722206. We also have a self screening courtesy of a USSD code platform from Safaricom one simply has to dial *371# this number asks some questions and if you show symptoms it directs you to which nearest hospital you can go to.” he added

The group has also put in place screening booths like and automated teller machine where one can simply self screen in the booth then depending on the outcome one is directed on the way forward.

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