Ambassador Godec’s Remarks for World TB Day 2018
“Partnering to Reach, Cure and Prevent TB”
Mathare Youth Sports Stadium, Nairobi
March 24, 2018
Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki;
Other distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here today to focus on tuberculosis, or TB, the world’s leading infectious disease killer. TB claims 53,000 lives each year in Kenya– that means that 145 Kenyans die from TB each and every day! TB is also the leading cause of death among people living with HIV and is responsible for more than half of all HIV-related deaths in Kenya.
Although TB disproportionately affects certain populations, such as older men and individuals living in urban centers, the truth is that TB can affect anyone. It can affect you, no matter your age and no matter where you live. As long as you are breathing, you are at risk of TB. The health threat from TB is real… and it is everywhere. So, it is critical that we all work together, governments, health professionals, communities, everyone, to fight TB.
Finding TB cases continues to be a challenge, both in Kenya and worldwide. In 2017, through a U.S. investment of nearly KSH 3 billion and a collaboration with the National TB and Leprosy Program, the Global Fund, and the World Health Organization, Kenya achieved a major milestone: completion of the country’s first National TB Prevalence Survey. Today marks one year since the results were released. The survey showed that half of all persons with TB in Kenya are “missed” – meaning that they are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. There are roughly 80,000 “missing” TB cases in Kenya each year. These missing cases mean that, not only are these individuals more likely to die from TB, but left untreated, they can unwittingly spread the illness to their families, their friends, and to their communities.
The U.S. government is committed to working with Kenya’s National TB Program. Every day, CDC and USAID work in collaboration with national and county governments and Kenya research institutions to find those 80,000 missing TB cases.
When TB cases are found, treatment is essential. The Kenyan Ministry of Health reports a TB treatment success rate of 82 percent, which is an impressive accomplishment, considering treatment often takes six months and requires sustained effort. But, while 82 percent is very good, we all want to do better. So, to improve this success rate, CDC is leading research efforts in Kenya to study a new four-month regimen, which we hope can improve the TB treatment success rate to almost 100 percent.
We also know that some patients suffer from drug-resistant TB, meaning that their illness cannot be cured by the normal medicines available. Through USAID support, Kenya is now accessing donated bedaquiline the first new drug developed to treat TB in more than 50 years, which is effective against many forms of drug-resistant TB.
Finally, I want like to congratulate the Government of Kenya and specifically the Ministry of Health and the National TB and Leprosy Program on the very good progress the TB program has made. I would also like to thank our partners including the Global Fund, the World Health Organization, and the many private sector and civil society stakeholders we work with. I applaud the health workers and former TB patients who are on the frontlines of this battle, raising awareness in communities, bringing people to facilities, and providing life-saving services to patients. Before coming here, I met with several of you at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, and am inspired by your hard work to bring TB to an end and help your fellow Kenyans.
Here on World TB Day, it great to see so many committed partners working to build public awareness of the threat of TB in Kenya. Together, our work is yielding real results. We are making a difference, we are saving lives. Together, we can reach every person with TB, cure those in need of treatment, and bring an end to TB.
Pamoja tusonge mbele!