, NAIROBI Kenya, Jun 17 – The government says it is committed to curb the rising cases of diabetes in the country with more than 1.6 million people affected as Central Kenya records highest prevalence at eight percent.
The disease causes 4.8 million deaths per year, which equates to more than 13,000 deaths per day with 370 million people estimated to live with the disease globally.
Speaking during the launch of this year’s Diabetes Marathon, Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia said the government will reduce the cost of insulin in both public and health sectors.
“The government is committed to the provision of quality healthcare for all Kenyans. In the case of diabetes for example, my ministry recently launched free insulin for patients under the age of 21 at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” he said.
The health Secretary noted that, “Diabetes is a chronic disease with far reaching health and economic consequences. It is not only a health problem but a development problem.”
He further said his Ministry will continue creating public awareness on prevention and control of diabetes. “In Kenya, the burden of diabetes has been on the rise over the years.”
Through his Ministry, Macharia said he intends to, “change the diabetes management paradigm from the provider centered care to patient centered care.”
Kenya Diabetes Management Information Centre Executive Director Eva Muchemi, while applauding the government efforts to deal with the disease, said more was needed to be done.
“Diabetes presently has no cure and as such, managing this condition is a lifetime commitment which includes daily injections, adhering to a strict diet and maintaining a healthy weight,” she stated.
“Without money to buy insulin, many of our children particularly, those from the less privileged will be denied a quality life and will eventually die.”
Presenting a Sh3 million cheque for the marathon, Capital FM Managing Director Cyrus Kamau urged the adoption of a healthy lifestyle while saying the disease was manageable if the right measures are put.
Speaking also at the event, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore asked the government to consider insulin as an essential medicine by offering it free to the victims.
“With the right information, diabetes is both preventable and manageable. However if we do not act, it is going to develop to an unnecessary pandemic whose toll on our society and indeed our economy will be devastating,” he lamented.
He added that, “Diabetes kills as many people as does HIV/AIDS; moreover the burden of diabetes is on the increase in developing economies.”
This year’s Diabetes walk aims to raise Sh25 million to fund free insulin for children less than 18 years from underprivileged families with the walk expected to take place in Nairobi and Mombasa.