Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Mathenge Blessing

Prosopis Juliflora 'Mathnge' weed was first introduced in Senegal by travelers from Latin America in 1822 Africa.Since then there were several introductions of Mathenge to other parts of Africa.The weed has been a pain to many of the pastoralists communities affecting their livestock. Biskidera Jabesa youth group is one of the groups using the weed to make feed for cattle. Kenya is planning on spreading the technology of eradicating the weed through utilization to other East African countries

Monday, March 25, 2013

Guest Blog: Get the MBA don't be MBA

It's fine to get an MBA but don't be an MBA

The "MBA: good or shitty for entrepreneurs" debate flares up regularly here in Silicon Valley.

Having attended business school at Stanford, I certainly have a horse in the race, but I'm also not one to insist it's (a) the best choice for everyone or (b) required for success.

At the same time, let's dismiss the notion that any legitimate entrepreneur would never go to business school - ie that the act of even thinking an MBA is worthwhile proves you're not a real hacker or hustler.

Key to all this talk is a more fundamental issue which most people gloss over -- the notion of letting an experience define you versus it becoming part of who you are. 
And thus my take is that it's fine to get an MBA, but not cool under any circumstances to be an MBA. 
Getting an MBA means you're curious to learn broadly about theories and explore how these techniques can be applied to various businesses. Being an MBA means you think you're getting taught the one right answer to problems - to a hammer everything is a nail - and that only MBAs know these dark arts.
Getting an MBA means offering your perspectives and experiences to your classmates. Being an MBA means looking at your peers as networking targets.
Getting an MBA means thinking about your degree as just another attribute of who you are - I have brown hair, a wife, work at Google, enjoy citrus fruits and possess a Stanford degree. Being an MBA means you are "Hunter Walk, Stanford MBA," elevating the matriculation to a level of undeserving primacy.
Getting an MBA means you shoot out of school wanting to prove yourself and see what you can contribute to others. Being an MBA means thinking the world owes you something and that your value 10x'ed just from spending two years on a campus.
At the end of the day, just be who you are, which is a collection of skills, abilities, successes, failures, fears, dreams and hopes. The most important degree you possess is Human University.
By the way, the "get, don't be" applies not just to business school but any accomplishment that causes one to define their identity vis a vis an entity or action. This just as easily could have been titled "fine to go to MIT, don't be an MIT" or "fine to work at Facebook, don't be a Facebook."


Monday, March 18, 2013

Sorghum; the new 'maize' in semi-arid Kenya

They laughed at her when she decided to grow what was considered to be food for the birds, but now it is Anna Muli’s turn to laugh.

The 67-year-old resident of Waita Village in Mwingi Central in Kenya's lower eastern region, is happy with her resolution five years ago to abandon maize farming for sorghum.

When the Africa Review went knocking at her home, she proudly welcomed the visitors with bowls of porridge made from sorghum flour, a luxury she could not afford a few years ago.

Like in other parts of Kenya’s lower eastern region, Mwingi is a fairly dry area which receives minimal rainfall throughout the year, a situation that residents say has deteriorated in the recent years and which meteorologists attribute to climate change.

This season, Ms Muli planted the Gadam sorghum in just an acre of her farm, but she is optimistic that she will harvest close to five bags at the end of March.

This is her third planting season and she has nothing short of praises for Gadam, the popular sorghum variety here.

“When the rainfall became irregular, most of the youth left for urban areas to look for alternative sources of livelihood and the little maize or beans you could plant, could no longer yield enough to feed your family,” she said

She explained that from the harvest last season, she was able to get enough food to last her the dry spells, and from the surplus sales, she was now able to care for her grandson who just completed high school.

“With Gadam, you are assured of a harvest and once you grind it to flour, you can use it to cook ugali (a type of bread) and even bake cakes,” she adds

Ms Anna Muli shows off her sorghum farm in Waita village in Kenya's lower eastern region. More arid and semiarid farmers have taken to growing drought tolerant crops to boost food security. SANDRA CHAO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
She has been gradually increasing the acreage under sorghum in her farm every planting season.
Ms Muli is among the thousands of Kenyans living in arid and semi-arid areas who have adopted farming of Drought Tolerant Crops (DTCs) in order to improve food security at an individual level.

High value crops

The Kenyan government, through the ministry of Agriculture, aggressively embarked on the traditional high value crops programme in late 2006 in order to promote production and consumption of alternative cereal and non-cereal crops as well as improve food security in the arid and semi-arid areas.

The uptake by farmers has, however, been slow with increased farming of crops like millet, sorghum, cowpeas and green grams being witnessed in the last two years.

In Mwingi central, for instance, the sorghum acreage in 2006 was 6,256 hectares which improved to 14,000 hectares in 2011, up from 10,700 in 2010.

The district agricultural officer, Mr James Muchoka, attributes this slow uptake to the stereotypes that the communities associate the cereal with.

“Though the uptake has been improving, people still associate sorghum as a poor man’s crop and some still prefer to grow maize even though it will fail,” he said.

Mr Muchoka said that the ministry did not give any maize seed to farmers to deter them, giving away only the dryland crops and those who were bent on planting maize had to buy a one kilogramme bag at $4 (about KSh350).

The ministry currently runs a seed retrieval system where famers who are given seed through the district agricultural officer are expected to bring back twice as much as they were given in order to have a grain bank for the next planting season.

Though the system creates a constant supply of seed to farmers, Mr Taylor Mburu of Africa Harvest Foundation explained it reduces the potential yield every season.

The not-for-profit organisation has been running a sorghum project in Mwingi and other semiarid areas in Kenya as part of their mission to transform Africa into a hunger free zone.

“We try to instil in farmers the culture of using certified seed in order to boost the yield, but the seeds are quite expensive and out of their reach and we have to look for donors to assist in making it available to farmers,” he said.

Multiple uses

Most of the sorghum farmers in Mwingi have clustered in groups of between 20 and 50 members and which they use to collectively store and sell the surplus.

After harvesting the dry heads from her farm, Ms Muli takes the seeds to the nearby silo owned by the group where it is thoroughly dried in the sun before it is stored.

“We have had several trainings among them how to ensure that the seeds contain 13 per cent moisture content by the time it is ready to grind to flour,” she says proudly.

Sorghum floor can be used to bake cakes and biscuits as well as make the staple Ugali although the seeds can also be cooked whole.

As a result of working in groups, sorghum famers in Mwingi have been able to benefit from selling in bulk. So far, they have been able to attract millers, alcohol brewers and manufacturers of animal feed.

“The prices have not been as good as we expected, but we have enough money for ourselves and can even buy the maize and beans we did not plant,” notes Ms Muli .

Ms Maryline Gachoya, a representative of the Australian High Commission, said that if there was an increased access to certified seeds, famers throughout the continent could become food secure.

“Sorghum is one of the drought tolerant crops that not only require little rainfall, but whose produce has multiple uses and as such various stakeholders should come on board to popularise it so that hunger can be a thing of the past,” she explained.

Numerous attempts have been made to improve the nutritional value of sorghum in order to better place it as an alternative to maize.

Africa harvest is currently working on a project in West Africa to bio-fortify sorghum, which is currently at the trials stages.

“We have plans to make a strong variety of sorghum enriched with Zinc and iron similar to the golden rice variety,” revealed Mr Mburu

Locally, the not for profit organisation has partnered with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in order to come up with higher yielding varieties of sorghum that can be introduced to the Kenyan farmer.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

African 'techpreneurs' leave their mark on innovation front

For years, Africa has been viewed as a technological dumping site with sophisticated gadgets and other advancements only hitting the market long after reaching their peaks in the more lucrative western markets.

Many of the accessories and computers that have been available within the continent were for decades considered inferior to those used in Europe and North America.

But in the last five years this has been changing, in part due to aggressive marketing in booming markets of Africa by profit-hungry telcos.

The inventor of the first hand-held tablet to rival the iPad and similar western inventions, Verone Mankou, shows his tablet on January 31, 2012 in the offices of his company, VMK, in Brazzaville.PHOTO/AFP

But a more exciting factor has also been at play: Young African innovators have been delving into the technological world to come up with devices that can compete with those made abroad - at least in the regional market.

After American technology icon Steve Jobs invented the iPad, African techies enthusiastically hit the innovation labs to come up with custom made solutions for Africa, and which are pocket friendly.

Most recently last December, Congolese entrepreneur Verone Mankou launched his smartphone and tablet that were specifically designed by his VMK Company for Africa.

Both devices, which run on the popular Android software, are designed in Congo but manufactured in China for cost reasons.

His tablet, branded Way-C, is taken from one of the numerous Congolese dialects to mean the "light of the stars".

Mankou described the innovation as being affordable without being cheaply made and “designed as a low-cost computer to bring Internet access to as many people as possible”.

The tablet is smaller than the iPad though it has a storage capacity of 4GB internal memory and supports Wi-Fi.

It has however not been all rosy for the entrepreneur who has come under sharp criticism for mass producing in China despite his maintaining that all engineering is done in Africa.

Nigerian Saheed Adepoju’s tablet INYE was first introduced into the market in 2010 and since then it has undergone several upgrades to improve the experience of users.

His invention of the INYE tablet perhaps caused the most ripples within the continent’s technological circles.

The launch of an upgraded Inye2 in 2011 went to reinforce the young innovator-entrepreneur’s decision to fully delve into African ‘techtoys’, drawing his inspiration from the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Several other African innovators have also come up with their own custom made mobile internet devices in a bid to bridge the continent’s yawning digital divide.

Adaptable applications

Nigeria-based web design company Websoft, in January 2012 made public its first ever tablet PC called Vantium V1. It later released an upgraded version, Vantium M1, in June.

The upgraded version combines the advantages of a phone, laptop and tablet in a single device, and unlike Inye2, Vantium M1 includes DStv, Microsoft office and Skype as some of its key applications though it is smaller in size and costs a bit more than Inye.

Vantium tablets run on Android’s Gingerbread operating system which allows the download of applications from the Android store or those made by third parties.

Websoft also announced recently that is seeking to provide a platform for African-made applications that are hidden or lost in the Android market.

Another Nigerian manufacturer, Debonair, also launched its Bamboo D300 tablet in April 2012 in Ghana and that was said to target only men.

This followed the release of Bamboo D180 and Bamboo D280 versions in 2011.

The main edge over other tablets in the market is its dual core CPU that makes it faster than many other innovations by competitors.

Bamboo D300 has been touted as the ultimate gadget and the company in its launch said that it was developed to celebrate a man’s success.

The tablet has been described in the media as easy to use even for people who do not know how to operate computers.

Fasmicro’s Ovim and Ovim Plus tablets have also rocked the Nigerian market.

The Ovim Plus tablet which was released in 2011 is said to be a perfect mix for work and play having adequate applications for both.

The sleek tablet comes with a 10.1 inch display and like other Android tablets, allows people to download applications from the Android market. It also comes with an inbuilt 3G module saving the user the hustle of acquiring an external modem in addition to its front and rear cameras.

It is not just in West Africa where such things are happening. Innovators from other parts of the continent have also come up with noble creations.

The South African market has been able to purchase the low cost WISE TOUCH 1 tablet produced by a local IT and telecoms company.

The seven-inch device also runs on Android 2.3 and comes with extra applications custom made for South Africans and that are clustered in the Wise Shopping Mall, the Wise Business Park and Wise Education Centre.

With time, African innovations are becoming adapted to a particular use.
Take for example the touch screen medical tablet that was unveiled in September 2012 made by a Cameroonian engineer.
Twenty-four-year-old Arthur Zang’s Cardiopad enables heart examinations to be made in rural locations and the results of the test transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them.

The cardiopad comes with inbuilt software that allows the doctor to give computer-assisted diagnosis and is expected to go a long way in preventing rural patients from having to travel to urban centres to seek medical assistance.

The gadget that is likely to positively impact the healthcare sector not only in Cameroon but Africa is however yet to be commercially produced as Zang is currently looking for venture capital.

Better comprehension

The Kenyan eLimu tablet is another such invention that is custom made to boost learning in primary schools.

The eLimu tablet contains revision content from all subjects examined in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and comes complete with graphics to allow better comprehension of content among students.

It is Internet-enabled to facilitate a forum of question and answers with teachers though it lacks a browser as a precautionary measure to prevent the misuse of internet connectivity.

The initiative, which is currently being run on small scale in selected schools in Nairobi, is set to expand to schools in other parts of Kenya later this year.

Many of these innovators, however, have come under fire amid allegations that their products are not genuinely made in Africa.

Most of them like Way-C and Encipher are designed and developed in their African countries but assembled in China.

The Zimbabwean tablet Maestro produced by Nhava in 2010 failed to take off in the African market mainly because it was accused of selling rebranded Chinese products.

The innovations whose brand names are still young in the market have to compete with well established brands like the Apple iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tablet and the Blackberry Playbook.

Despite these advancements in African technology, many sceptical consumers tend to prefer the foreign gadgets over their local counterparts despite the decreased price with confidence in the brands playing a major role.

With the current 15.6 per cent internet penetration rate in Africa and only 167 million users according to the 2012 internet world stats website, there is room for more innovative mobile devices that make internet access much easier.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Election Day

I know by now you have heard everything there is to learn about the historic general election that Kenyans undertook three days ago.

Even before poll day there was a lot of skepticism as to whether the country would go for a peaceful election or would end up going down the drain as it did after the disputed elections of 2007.

Local and international media alike carried stories on the impact of the election not just to the economy but how the presidential election would impact neighboring countries.

Many had speculated an outbreak of violence despite the numerous peace efforts that had been undertaken by various stakeholders.

For various foreign media houses the death of six policemen on the eve of the election day after attack by a gang of criminals suspected to be from the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) was a trailer for what was to be unveiled but to date they are yet to have their day.

Of course by now stories of the women who 'recycled' children in order to avoid the long queues at polling stations and how the brilliant electoral officials  opted to outsmart the women by marking the children's ears.

Then there were those who feigned pregnancy in order to receive preference in casting their votes. One young lady barely, three months pregnant carried with her the doctor's acknowledgement in support of her quest despite the missing 'bump'.

Some however were not so fortunate, several women who stuffed towels and clothes under their clothes to mimic a baby bump were actually let down by their female neighbors who were appalled by the overnight baby growth rate who shamed them by removing the stuffed clothes in public.

Social media was a buzz with name suggestions for the baby who was delivered  while the mother queued to cast her vote at one of the polling stations in the capital Nairobi. Suggestions ranged from Ballot-Eli to names like Election Akinyi.

These little behaviors many of which were unreported went to affirm that despite our various attempts to copy western lifestyle by seeming civilized, the little African in us will always emerge at the first opportunity.

You might wonder why this piece has taken a more personalized version than any of my other pieces. you might have had various versions of the election story but you have not heard my version yet and I am a professional storyteller!

Monday March 4, was a day that I looked forward to not because of the election interestingly because of the fact that there would be absolutely no traffic on the recently launched Thika Superhighway that i use to get to town every morning.Somehow the expanded road seems to have attracted more vehicles leading to bottle necks that can extend your travel time by between thirty minutes and an hour.

Election day was just splendid! I spent a record 15 minutes to get to town and the fare was unbelievably cheap. Honestly I battled with myself not to actually go back home and make the journey again just for fun.

I knew I would be working on election day so I decided to register to a polling station near my office for convenience. It turned out that I had  registered at one of the most populous polling stations within Nairobi Central Business District as I cast my vote some minutes after seven o'clock in the evening.

Instead of going to the office I decided to walk to the polling station first to cast my votes but the lines were extremely long. If I was to stand in line then I would have to wait for the better part of the morning to cast my vote so I walked back to the office thoroughly impressed.

It was evident that those who constituted the queues were fairly young meaning that a majority of the youth had become politically empowered and the queue was nonetheless shorter six hours later.

Being a journalist has its own privileges and one of them is an access pass to polling stations accredited by the electoral body. So when I returned to cast my vote I was armed with my key to avoid queuing but I had a change of heart at the last minute and decided to walk to the far end of the queues.

I was in good company, a novel in hand and a bottle of cold water to while a way the time as i waited to get to the ballot.Up close, I marveled even more at the turnout, it was a mix that had not  been seen before reason being in past elections the country's middle class always seemed to abstain from participating but here were several vehicles parked by the roadside and owners queuing to perform their civic duty.

An hour into my standing in line I notice a hawker with some sort of hat contraption in built with a fan powered  by a solar charged mortar. It immediately got my interest and that's how I ended up buying one for myself.

The cap did not disappointed it worked efficiently as long as I was in the sun the panel would charge and the fun would rotate with cool air drying of the sweat from my face.

That hawker opened my foresight to the kind of potential the Kenyan youth have and the creativity in their minds that generally lies underutilized and i recall thinking to myself that this was the kind of opportunity the country's 4th president should take advantage of to look into the problem of unemployment.

With my cap on I became an instant hit, I put my book aside and started chatting with those close to me though people were generally tired of the long lines they were enthusiastic and faces beamed with hope that this time around they would handle the election in a different way as if to say this time they had the voice and that their vote mattered.

When we got into the polling station and got divided into streams the conversation seemed to change to baby names and what names to avoid giving your  child in future so that they would avoid making long queues.

R and  S streams as well as J to L seemed to have the longest lines while names starting with the last six digits of the alphabet had relatively short queues.

When the door of the room in which we were to cast our vote was visible from a distance we were physically exhausted. we joked among ourselves that by the time it was our turn to  cast the ballot we would have forgotten who we wanted to choose in the first place

By the time I had chosen my candidates for all the six elective posts, the national tallying center had already began receiving provisional results for the presidential candidates.

I got home rather late that night with aches in almost all parts of my body part of me wishing  I would have jumped the queue and saved myself some bit of trouble.

The other half not wanting to change a thing if  given the chance to relive election day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TB of the spine: Silent killer that confines thousands to paralysis

At only 27, Francis Ngure was living his dream in 2007. He had a well-paying job, was recently married and a proud father of a two-year-old boy.

He was an accountant of a leading Mombasa-based transport company that operates in East and Central Africa. Mr Ngure earned enough to support a middle-income lifestyle.
“I was in a stable job with a good salary and it never occurred to me that I would grapple with a financial crisis,” he said in an interview.

That was before tragedy struck in August 2007.
Mr Ngure’s right leg fell numb while he was driving back home from work one evening, incapacitating him for a few minutes.
“My leg was on the accelerator and I was behind a truck. I tried to move it over to the brakes but it simply could not move and had to drive off the road and literally lift it off from the accelerator after a few minutes, however it became lively again, so I headed home,” he recalls.
He did not pay much attention to that incident until it happened again a few days later. This time he was attending a friend’s wedding committee meeting and as they were leaving his left foot went numb so he faltered and immediately his right foot also became numb. Mr Ngure was carried home by his friends.
“By the time I got home, I had lost function even in my arms and I knew at that moment that there was something terribly wrong with my body. I recall telling my wife that because it was so late she would have to drive me to the hospital early the following day. Shockingly, I woke up with my whole body functioning well and went to work,” he says.
That was the start of his deteriorating health. By December of that year, he was bedridden having completely lost function in all his limbs and completely reliant on his family to do basic things like feeding, taking a bath and relieving himself.
All this time, Mr Ngure had been seeking medical attention. The first doctor he went to as he began losing function of his legs told him that he had arthritis and put him on medication for management.
Two months later, things were still going downhill and he sought a second opinion from a different doctor. This time he was diagnosed as having gout and given medicine but he got worse by the day.
For close to a year he was in and out of hospitals trying to find out what was ailing him and getting a cure.

Physical examination
“I remember one doctor who after a physical examination told me point blank that I would never walk again. I became depressed and wondered whether this was the life that God wanted me to lead,” he said.

By end of 2008, Mr Ngure was bankrupt and had the property he had to his name. He was forced to move in with his parents to get the support system he needed to adapt to his new life.
The move also allowed his wife who was traumatised by the whole experience to concentrate on raising their son.

It was at this time that his body slowly started turning black, the soles of his feet cracked and he gained a considerable amount of weight as a result of being bedridden.
He lost touch with most of his former colleagues and friends and soon started harbouring thoughts of death.
Upon his father’s recommendation, he visited another specialist — Dr Samson Bebora — though he doubted that this visit would be any different from previous ones.
“I still remember the doctor asked me how I felt and I was tired of repeating the symptoms over and over; so, I took a pen and wrote it down.Immediately after reading through what I had written down, he asked me the last time I had passed stool and I recall thinking to myself that perhaps he knew what he was doing,” Mr Ngure said.

Dr Bebora sent him for a series of tests that included basic blood work, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT scans) among other procedures.
The results reaffirmed the doctor’s initial suspicions and diagnosed Mr Ngure with spinal tuberculosis also known as Pott’s disease. It is what caused the paralysis.
He was immediately booked into surgery to remove sections of the spine that had been infected and put on medication.
“The doctor told me that it would take three years to get back on my feet. Though I had lost all hope, his words of encouragement sprung on me and I kept telling myself that I had to be patient through it all.”
He began his physiotherapy sessions a few weeks after the surgery while in hospital. After close to a month of therapy, his legs did not seem to show any progress and his care-givers were sceptical that the situation would improve.
After being discharged, Dr Bebora referred him to a different physiotherapist who previously helped two other spinal TB victims get back on their feet.
“Even after five months of therapy, I had no function in my limbs which was disappointing but I kept drawing inspiration from my four-year old son who was growing up so fast and who kept asking why I always sat on the wheelchair instead of walking. I wanted to walk again and be an active part of his life,” he recalled
With intensive therapy sessions both in hospital and at home, he slowly moved from the wheelchair that he had been using for three years to using a walker for the better part of 2010. In 2011, he started using a crutch to support his left leg.
It was in the same year that he embarked on restoring his financial independence, venturing into shipping supplies with the help of friends though he had no experience.
“It was a lot of hard work going into something blindly not knowing what to expect. At the back of my mind, I knew had to provide for my son.”

He started with a small office after raising the Sh1 million seed money and had to familiarise himself with ships and how they work.
In the last one year, his business has grown and he has moved to a bigger office within Mombasa’s Central Business District and even employed five people.

“I have contracts with the Kenya Navy and the Kenya Ports Authority where I supply ship spare parts and, sometimes, food stuff. It has not been an easy journey bidding for these tenders but I am glad with the progress the business has made; so far, I am able to provide not just for my family my employees,” he adds, smiling.
Mr Ngure admits that there is little information with the public about spinal TB that often leads to late diagnosis and reduces the chances of a patient fully recovering from paralysis.
“I know only two other people in Mombasa who have suffered a similar fate; a woman who has fully recovered and is currently working with a parastatal and a man who was undergoing treatment but who unfortunately succumbed a few months ago. That is why I want to raise as much awareness about the disease as possible,” he explained
Though he still walks with a limp, he has since replaced the crutch with a cane and hopes that with more therapy he will get back to walking normally.
Dr Jeremiah Chakaya, a leading TB expert and director of the Kenya Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (KAPTLD), cases of spinal TB in the country are rare.
“I have been dealing with TB for close to 15 years now and sometimes I can go for between one and three months before I get such a patient,” he said.
Dr Chakaya said that most of the time, symptoms like swelling of joints and in more extreme cases paralysis are not attributed to TB by many people, adding that because of its rareness, some doctors would initially diagnose it as either arthritis or gout.
A patient suffering from spinal TB is also likely to suffer from extreme back pain and incidents of angulations of the spine in the form of a gibbus along with other common symptoms of TB like fever and loss of weight.
The TB expert says that an Xray helps to identify the disease which causes the collapse of the vertebrae and in some cases a rim of pus is seen around the collapsed vertebrae.
“Treatment for TB of the spine is similar to that of the pulmonary TB that most people are familiar with and the patient may take medication for between nine months and a year. If there has been damage to the spinal cord causing paralysis, the patient will require going for therapy sessions,” added Dr Chakaya.
Though there is a lot of awareness creation on tuberculosis currently in the country, many misconceptions still exist.
Dr Chakaya says that the perception among the public is that the disease is restricted to affecting the lung yet there are several other ways in which the infection can manifest itself.

Immune system
TB is commonly classified as pulmonary and extra-pulmonary. The former has many forms but it normally manifests itself in the lungs and is the most common form. According to Dr Chakaya, 80 per cent of the cases reported in Kenya manifest this way.

Apart from affecting the lungs, the bacteria can also affect the space between the lungs and the chest wall, causing chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
Larnyx TB occurs when the bacteria affects the vocal cords though it is not common.
The extrapulmonary tuberculosis occurs in several other areas of the body and takes different forms.
In the lymph node, the bacteria can affect the body’s immune system where it replicates in an uncontrolled way in the lymph nodes, causing them to enlarge.
The bacteria can also affect outer linings of the intestines and abdominal walls in a condition is referred to as tuberculosis peritonitis. Patients suffer abdominal pains and fluid can fill between the linings causing the abdomen to be distended.
It is also possible for the membrane surrounding the heart to get TB attack, what is commonly referred to as pericarditis which causes the space between the heart and the pericardium to fill with fluid and prevent the heart from efficiently pumping blood.
Renal TB is normally identified easily when a patient’s urine contains white blood cells. If left unattended it can affect the reproductive organs in both females and males.
A patient suffering from TB meningitis may show signs similar to a stroke or having a brain tumour and it is caused when the bacteria attack the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Severe cases lead to permanent brain damage or even death.
The different forms of TB manifest after one inhales air with bacteria mostly exhaled by an infected individual when they cough or sneeze.

It is also possible that the inhaled bacteria can remain inactive in the body for a long period of time without developing into TB.
“There is no harm in having an X-ray to confirm whether the symptoms are for TB or not,” Dr Chakaya said.