Kenya: Court jails person with TB for not taking treatment and infecting wife and children; Kenya Ethical and Legal Issues Network on HIV and AIDS protests


Kelin embarks on anti arrest campaign after Narok court jails TB patient for interrupting his treatment

July 21, 2015
Source: Kelinkenya

A Narok Court on Wednesday, 15 July, jailed a TB patient, who had interrupted his treatment, for one year for repeatedly failing to take medication, thereby infecting his wife and children. According to an online news article on Standard Digital, X was fined Ksh. 30,000 or a further six months imprisonment in default. X had been arraigned before Senior Resident Magistrate Allan Temba Sitati and charged with failing to take his medication even though this charge is not recognised in law. Hon. Sitati ordered for an immediate trial due to the sensitivity of the matter.

X’s arrest coincides with KELIN’s advocacy campaign against the imprisonment of TB patients with interrupted treatment. Currently, KELIN is prosecuting a matter before the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court in Nairobi, challenging the arrest and detention of TB patients who had allegedly interrupted their treatment. The matter will be heard on 22 July, 2015 at 9:00am. KELIN argues that the act of arrest and detention of the TB patients is a violation of their Constitutional rights to dignity, life and health, among others.

In relation to X’s case, KELIN also classifies his arrest, charging and subsequent conviction as a wrong interpretation and application of Section 27 of Kenya Public Health Act upon which the courts base their conviction of TB patients who have interrupted treatment cycles. KELIN calls for other isolation measures other than imprisonment of the TB patients, an act which exposes the patients to further TB infections and puts the prison population at risk of TB infection.

Section 27 of Public Health Act provides that a the medical officer may certify the isolation of a TB patient by a court order, a magistrate and at the cost of the local authority of the district where such person is found until, in the opinion of the medical officer of health, he is free from infection or able to be discharged without danger to the public health, or until the magistrate cancels the order. KELIN advocates for counties to invest in appropriate isolation facilities for such patients.

According to the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Lung Disease Department of the Ministry of Health, in 2013 there were 89,760 cases reported, a 9.48 decline from the 99,159 cases reported in 2012. There were a total of 291 drug resistant TB cases notified, 254 of which were multidrug resistant. According to Ministry of Health, TB contributes 6.5 per cent of deaths, making it the fourth largest cause of mortality in Kenya.

It is in this regard, that KELIN calls for the immediate release of X from prison to a health facility with proper isolation facilities as his incarceration beats the very purpose of his arrest since he will not be isolated in prison and will put the public’s health at risk in the cells.