Kevin is no ordinary child, he has had to go through a lot of pain in his thirteen years and probably he will continue to suffer if the necessary interventions are not carried out as soon as possible. He was born with the HIV virus and has been battling with unending Pneumonia infections ever since he was four months old. In 2001, Kevin was diagnosed with tuberculosis which was treated however in 2010, the Tuberculosis recurred. In between this period he also had several pneumonia infections. The first time he was put on anti TB treatment, Kevin started developing complications which have seriously affected his young life. He lost his eyesight from unexplained reasons.
At first he could see blurred images and he was always complaining of a headache but eventually his eyesight completely failed him. His sense of hearing too was not spared, Kevin was affected and currently he can only hear partially in on his ears and you have to really shout for him to slightly hear you.
He has always been complaining of chest pains and headaches and whenever this happens, the doctors always diagnose him with pneumonia with the most recent case being in August of 2011.
Kevin’s father abandoned them when his son’s condition got worse leaving his mother to take care of him and she has left no stone unturned in her quest to find a more helpful and lasting solution. She enrolled him in a school in Meru where he was learning Braille but the school was very far considering her son needs constant care. She is now in the process of transferring him to a school in Nairobi that has a special unit for special children.
“Kevin has been attending regular clinics at Kenyatta to find out why his head is growing bigger. And I was told that his head has filled up with water,” his mother points out.
Kevin has hydrocephalus (swelling of the brain as a result of cerebral spinal fluid building up in the central nervous system which causes the fontanel to bulge and the head to become larger than expected). Could this be a direct result of the drug interactions?
Like in adults, TB in children is becoming a major infection in children who are living with HIV and can result in childhood deaths even in children who are not infected with the HIV virus. Sadly in Kenya the diagnostic systems are still not up to standards and many children end up misdiagnosed at the first screening. When taken to hospitals with TB symptoms, children get treated for other chest infections such as pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis, something that fuels the delay in treatments.
With his history of tuberculosis, Kevin’s constant pneumonia infections should be taken seriously considering the facts that he is always complaining of chest pains and that he has had a recurrence TB infection twice. This however is a long shot!
“Sometimes it is so hard for Kevin he cannot sleep well because of the pain especially at night,” says the mother.
If only more funds could be invested in pediatric diagnosis and treatment programs, children like Kevin would not have to suffer or undergo the pain that he is facing every other single day of his life. Failure to do this will result in more TB deaths in children, something that can be avoided because Tuberculosis is curable.