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Laboratory officers’ union raises alarm over rising misdiagnosis cases in Kenya

The Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) has raised concern over the high levels of misdiagnosis of diseases in the country, given that three out of 10 patients in the country get the wrong diagnosis or treatment.

The Union’s Secretary General Enock Wanyonyi said that the cases are as a result of poor quality testing with HIV, H Pylori and tuberculosis.

Mr Wanyonyi observed that recently many cases of HIV misdiagnosis through substandard rapid test strips have been reported in various parts of the country with many individuals wrongly put on antiretroviral (ARVs).

He pointed out that many Kenyans have also been put on anti-TB drugs while those who have been wrongly misdiagnosed for H Pylori as having ulcers, with majority being in Nairobi, are on H Pylori kit costing Sh6,000 yet they do not have the said diseases.

“Many are suffering in silence as the ministry has condemned them in the name of saving numbers to attract donor funds. Only the brave ones have dared to talk and the ministry is doing its best to silence them,” said Mr Wanyonyi.

He said that the proliferation of the cases is as a result of the departments supposed to carry out the tests, which is the medical laboratory officers, being denied the capacity to do the same.

Mr Wanyonyi further pointed out that validation of equipment was given to Pharmacy and Poisons Board, aboard that said before Senate Health committee that it does not have the capacity to carry out validation, raising questions on the safety and quality of medical equipment coming to the country.

TESTING OF DISEASE

“So it is very clear that medical equipment coming to Kenya are not validated and how sure are Kenyans subjected to the equipment of their safety? If the body in charge of validation does not have the capacity to do so?” Wanyonyi posed.

The union now wants the government to ensure that testing of disease is only done by qualified personnel using reagents and equipment that are validated and verified in accordance with the world best practices to guarantee highest quality of disease diagnosis.

“Only qualified medical laboratory officers have competences to perform medical laboratory investigations and analysis. Quality assurance in medical laboratory testing is an integral part of testing human clinical specimens,” he said.

KNUMLO chairperson Cliff Randa also raised concern over Kenya’s disease preparedness in case of an emergency like Ebola and Anthrax at a time when medical laboratory officers supposed to do the preparations have been neglected by the government.

“Recently you heard of Malaria outbreak in Baringo and within two days 20 people had lost their lives. Imagine if that was Ebola or Anthrax. We cannot see our citizens suffering yet we have the capacity to handle that which we are trained to do,” said Mr Randa.