Kenya and Ethiopia are among the World Health Organisation’s 30 high burden Tuberculosis (TB) countries globally, attributed to increasing cross-border movement of their population.
According to the WHO, more than 20 million people living in the common border areas across the eight member countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) suffer from TB, and the highly infectious disease remains a major public concern for governments.
As the world marked TB Day this week, cross-border movement has been identified as a major obstacle to the fight against TB, multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) in the eight-member countries of the Igad.
Speaking in Mombasa during the high-level regional experts meeting on health in the Igad region, Igad Mission to Kenya representative Fatuma Adan said mixed migration flows and lack of government data sharing mechanism has resulted to ineffective anti-TB campaigns in the region.
“Our porous borders contribute to ineffective anti-TB campaigns and this can only be won if we renew our focus on how we control migration, considering women and youth are the most affected,” she said.
Health officials were meeting in Mombasa ahead of Igad’s 12th Health Ministerial meeting.
Countries in the region are working on modalities to share critical data on TB patients, more so in border regions. Joseph Sitienei, the head of policy, research, monitoring and evaluation in Kenya’s Ministry of Health said; “Most border health centres are not equipped with the right equipment and countries are working to ensure they do, to serve increasing numbers of a cross-border population who majority suffer disease. We are also working on a programme to share patients’ data without infringing on their rights,” said Dr Sitienei.