Government urged to act now on extensively drug resistant TB or risk a public health disaster in the future
Leading Kenyan civil society organisations have come together to demand that the Kenyan Government acts swiftly on the current case of a woman in Nairobi with extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB).
Over 15 organisations – led by KELIN (Kenya Legal and Ethical Network on HIV & AIDS) – have today <13 Feb> delivered an advisory note to four ministers and Kenya’s Attorney General outlining the issues of this new case and treating TB in Kenya generally.
The patient – known as Mrs X – was diagnosed with XDR-TB in October 2011. She has been prescribed three medicines to purchase herself. However, one of these vital medicines is not currently registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board in Kenya and so Mrs X can’t access it. Mrs X is relying on family members to help cover the Ksh 16,000 per week costs. This is extremely difficult as Mrs X is unable to work, so needs family help for food and housing costs, as well as medicine.
XDR-TB is a very contagious condition that should ideally be treated within an isolation ward until the patient ceases to be infectious. Kenya was given funding for an isolation ward by the Global Fund in 2005, but this ward is still yet to be completed. Despite still being infectious, Mrs X has been travelling to hospital by taxi and is living with family members in a compound she shares with other people. Health organisations are concerned that if adequate care is not given to Mrs X, it could result in more cases of this type of TB in Kenya and greater costs in the long run, both in terms of a loss of life and depletion of other health resources.
Delivering the advisory note, Coordinator of the human rights organisation KELIN, Allan Maleche, said:
“One of Kenya’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to reduce the incidence and mortality due to TB by 2015 and to eradicate it completely by 2050, but the Government is not addressing TB with the level of seriousness it deserves, particularly as it is a matter concerning the individual, community, national and global public health.
“The case of Mrs X has been handled in a deplorable manner. We demand that the Government recognizes the Right to Health and provides all the necessary medication – at no cost to the patient.
“This includes Viomyci – which is not registered locally by the Poisons and Pharmacy Board. We know that the Kenyan Government can access this medicine from international aid agencies, but it needs to act quickly and not risk patients health because of bureaucracy.”
Speaking about her condition, Mrs X said:
“The way in which I have been treated by the public health service is making it very difficult to survive. My family has to find Ksh 16,000 for drugs every week. All I want is for the Government to provide me with all the medicine that I need without making me pay for it myself.
“I am also worried about infecting others if I don’t receive the right level of support from health professional. I hope that the Government changes its policies now, so that it manages people with my condition better in the future.”
The coalition of civil society organisations that delivered today’s advisory note to the Government have stated that they will continue to put pressure on the Government until it improves the situation for Mrs X and other TB patients in Kenya. Mr Maleche says KELIN may take the issue to court.
To view a copy of the advisory note, please go to http://kelinkenya.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Advisory-Note-web-version.pdf
Annie Goss | Communications Adviser |Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & Aids (KELIN) |Tel: 020 386 1596, 251 5790 | Mobile 0705932383| Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
The advisory note has been delivered today to the following people: Hon. Beth WambuiMugo E.G.H., M.P, Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Hon. Peter Anyang’ Nyongó E.G.H. M.P, Minister for Medical Services, Hon. Esther MurugiMathenge E.G.H., M.P, Minister of State for Special Programmes, Hon.MutulaKilonzo E.G.H. SC. M.P, Minister for Justice National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Prof GithuMuigai, M.P, Attorney General, Republic of Kenya.
The advisory note – led by KELIN – has been endorsed by the following organisations:
Action Aid International Kenya (AAIK)
Aids Law Project Kenya (ALP‐K)
Alliance for Care and Prevention of Tuberculosis in Kenya (ACT KENYA)
Health Rights Advocacy Forum (HERAF)
Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (KANCO)
Kenya Consortium to fight AIDS TB and Malaria (Kecofatuma)
Kenya Medical Care Development International- Kenya
Kenya Network of HIV Positive Teachers (KENEPOTE)
Kenya Network of Women Living with AIDS (KENWA)
Kenya Treatment Access Movement (KETAM)
Lean On Me Young PLHIV Group
National Empowerment Network of People Living With HIV and AIDS Kenya (NEPHAK)
Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA)
Network of Men Living With HIV & AIDS in Kenya (NETMA)
TB Action Group
Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya
Wote Youth Development Project
The case of Mrs X has had limited media coverage in Kenya:
Due to her health condition, Mrs X is not able to give broadcast interviews.
Allan Maleche from KELIN, a TB survivor and TB expert DR Kichari are available for interview