NAIROBI, July 12- The Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre (KDMIC) wants the government to provide free medication to children below the age of 18 at all public hospitals.
The organisation’s Programmes Coordinator Eva Muchemi lamented Saturday that insulin treatment was retailing at between Sh300 and Sh500 which was too expensive for most of the patients.
Muchemi, who spoke during the annual Diabetes Walk in Nairobi, argued that diabetes needed a greater focus from the government, just as HIV/AIDS.
"We would like to be considered just like the people living with HIV/AIDS and have drugs given free especially to our youths who rely on insulin and our adults because the numbers are increasing," she said.
She further called for cheaper testing strips which go for between Sh80 and Sh100, saying lower prices would encourage more people to know their condition.
Muchemi said,"for something that you need to survive or cannot do without, insulin is still very expensive in public hospitals."
She further called for policies to address the management of diabetes, citing the current lack of official records on the number of people living with diabetes in the country.
"We would like that aspect put in place as quick as possible so that we are able to quote figures even when seeking donor assistance," she said.
This year’s Diabetes walk targeted to raise Sh5 million, earmarked for sensitisation programs.
Muchemi however said management of the condition in the country had improved following a program which saw the training of staff at provincial training.
"Those we have trained will run the diabetes clinics at the referral hospitals as well as train people in the communities on the disease," she said.
Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said she would lobby the Ministry of Finance to allocate more funds for public awareness campaigns on prevention of non-communicable diseases such diabetes.
Speaking before flagging off the Walk, Mugo said the ministry had shifted it focus from treatment of diabetes to implementing preventive measures as the condition is often diagnosed in its chronic stage.
"The ministry recognizes diabetes as a major health risk and ‘a medical time bomb’ that may catch Kenyans unawares," the minister told the participants who had turned up for the walk.
The prevalence rates for diabetes range between 6-10 percent particularly among the youth who account for 15 percent of patients.
The increase of diabetes in Kenya has often been attributed to poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, increased levels of stress and urbanization.
She said diabetes was now the leading cause of all non-accident related amputations.