Godluck Ogutu is no ordinary father; he is a father of four and a casual labourer who despite the fact that he is
co-infected with both HIV and TB, shoulders the burden and responsibility of solely taking care of his children after their mother who was also living with
HIV left him to continue with the responsibility of raising and taking care of the children.
On a visit at the Kitengela Health Centre, I was surprised to see a man coming out of the consulting room carrying an
infant child in his arms, a huge envelope and two young children clutching protectively at his shirt. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on
me but it was true, before me was a man who had brought his child to the clinic for ante-natal care. I double checked on my camera to see if I had captured it
right and it was all there. I stopped what I was recording and sought Nurse Grace for more information concerning the
man with the three children and that is when I was introduced to Ogutu who told me his story afterwards.
Ogutu and his wife like all couples have had their ups and downs and once when this happened, they separated for close
to a year after which they resolved their difficulties and came back together. After a while though the wife realised she was pregnant and she enrolled at the
health centre for ANC. At the centre she was offered the whole package which included HIV screening, apparently she tested sero-positive and she hid it from
her husband. She refused to be enrolled to the PMTCT program and carried on as usual with her life.
During this time Ogutu became sick and he went to hospital where he was screened and found to be living with the virus.
He was effectively put on ART because his CD4 count was quite low. Shortly after his wife delivered a baby boy and though her condition had deteriorated
drastically she adamantly refused to be put on ART and left for her village. Ogutu who had been attending support group therapy sessions decided to take
charge for the sake of his newborn son. The boy had been put on ART but because his mother had left with him and considering the attitude his wife had towards
medicine, Ogutu travelled to the village to take his son. He came back with the boy and left his wife at the village.
Currently Ogutu has been struggling to balance his days which consist of going to work and taking care of his
children, attending TB clinic for DOTS because he tested TB smear positive and occasionally taking his child for the regular and recommended clinic.
Ogutu says the love he has for his children is what motivated him to do what he did and what he is doing. He has been
attending regular health talks at the Kitengela Health Centre and knows the importance of adherence. Despite the fact that he is a potential risk to these
children by virtue of his Tuberculosis infection, Ogutu refuses to delegate their care to relatives believing that they will not get the necessary care and
attention that they deserve. Besides he says that his eldest children are attending school in Kitengela and they might miss out on school if they have to
go to the village.His children have not been screened for TB.
Unfortunately in Kenya we lack an organized system of social welfare programs and child protection systems despite the obvious need. Ogutu’s is just one of many experiences that is happening especially in these days of HIV and AIDS. There is need for the government to address this need and respond to families living with HIV through
the provision of temporary social welfare programs to enable people like Ogutu finish their treatment without being a potential risk to their children. With child protection systems, policies and services will be set up that will support the prevention and response to potentially related health risks
IN this case children can temporarily be taken to foster care and guardianship or charitable children’s institution for the duration of the parent’s treatment course,
especially if the parent is suffering from a potentially infectious disease like Tuberculosis. Under the Children’s Act 2001 children have a right to be
protected and not exposed in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child’s health or seriously affect his or her well being. Under this