In 2015, children comprised of 6,968 out of the total TB 81, 518 TB cases in Kenya and the TB prevalence survey shows that the burden of TB is even higher. With this alarming figures, USAID funded TB ARC Activity has been committed to actively finding the missing cases especially in the densely congregate settings since TB prevalence is higher in urban areas compared to rural areas. On Sunday, February 19, TB ARC supported the Nairobi County TB team in screening of 238 children from the Korogocho slums in the continued efforts of increasing TB awareness in the community. Korogocho is one of Kenya’s biggest slums and is home to about 300,000 Nairobi’s urban poor population. The screening was carried out under the theme ‘Afya Yetu Jukumu Letu’ which is Swahili for ‘Our Health is Our Responsibility.’
Children line up for the TB symptom screening
Among the children screened were a group of students from the renowned Jazz music group – Ghetto Classics. These are talented children under the Art of Music Foundation who formed a community programme aimed at equipping life skills to children. Based in a local primary school and church, the group runs both a brass band and string ensemble that trains on a weekly basis. Playing of the instruments involves blowing which may pose a risk of spreading tuberculosis especially if any of the students has the disease. Therefore, Children between ages 5 to 17 years were screened using Intensive case finding (ICF) cards.
During the event the music group did a number of performances to entertain the community, making the screening event a fun affair. Various speakers including TB ARC Chief of Party Dr Brenda Mungai, TB ARC Paediatrician Dr Teresiah Njoroge joined the community health promotion officers and sub-county tuberculosis, leprosy and lung disease coordinators (sCTLCs) in giving health education talks. The health talks involved an interactive question and answer session that was an eye opener to a number of the children and a good feedback forum for the TB team. Myths in TB were demystified and especially the misconception of TB being a disease for people living with HIV. A TB champion from the community also gave a personal experience of how she survived TB.
The diagnosis of TB in children relies on a careful history, a careful physical examination and other necessary investigations. Treatment outcomes in all children are generally good provided treatment is started immediately the diagnosis is made. TB is a curable and preventable disease and it is thus important to make efforts to address it promptly. Therefore, various individuals in the community and health facilities have a responsibility to prevent transmission and promote treatment adherence among patients, families and the community at large. Health education is equally important for creating awareness about TB, changing attitudes and behavior and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Out of the 238 children screened there were 78 presumptive cases however none of them tested positive. USAID funded TB ARC activity continues to support Kenya’s efforts to END TB by 2035 and TB elimination by 2050 by aggressively focusing on urban TB care and prevention.