WHO ranks UK among the high burden Tuberculosis (TB) countries in the World, with TB being the leading cause of death among infectious diseases in Kenya.
Since 2013, Centre for Health Solutions-Kenya with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been working with the National TB, Leprosy and Lung Disease Program (NTLD-P) to change this narrative. This is through the Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care II (TB ARC II ) activity, and its predecessor Tuberculosis Accelerated Response and Care (TB ARC ) activity, 2013-2018.
In March this year, Kenya reported the first case of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease that presents with cough and fever which are also the key symptoms of TB disease. According to NTLD-P, there is limited data on the exact effects of co-infection with COVID-19 of persons with TB. TB disease usually occurs due to a lowered immune response, and in itself lowers the immunity. COVID-19 has a higher likelihood of being severe in persons with lowered immunity and in persons with other co-morbidities. Therefore, it is also likely that TB patients who get infected with COVID-19 may have a higher likelihood of severe lower respiratory tract infection and/ or death.
In the view of the above, NTLD-P recommends that in the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic: persons with suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 should also be evaluated for TB disease; a reduction in the frequency of the scheduled follow-up visits for stable TB patients who have completed at least one month of treatment; and scheduled visits as per the current standard of care, or more frequently as the need arises for the unstable patients in the intensive and continuation phase of treatment.
NTLD-P in collaboration with TB ARC II and other partners are also exploring community drug delivery as an additional measure to ensure continuity of TB treatment services in the community.