NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – The Ministry of Health will roll out a countrywide diabetic education and screening campaign as it steps up its effort for early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.
Speaking during the World Diabetes Day celebration in Nairobi, Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia indicated that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with key diabetes stakeholders will conduct awareness, screening and treatment in various counties across the country.
“Kicking off in Nairobi, we shall offer free screening and education at the Ministry of Health headquarters, Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre in Hurlingham, at the Kamiti maximum Prison and across several counties,” Macharia said.
“I encourage Kenyans to take advantage of this opportunity to be tested and seek advice on ways of altering their lifestyles to embrace a healthier future.”
The launch, initiated by the government in partnership with the Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre (DMI) and pharmaceutical firm, Merck Serono serves as one of the activities the Ministry of Health will be involved in over the month of November, aimed at increasing the visibility and priority accorded to diabetes and other non communicable diseases (NCDs).
This will ensure that that the call of adopting healthier lifestyles becomes an everyday message and not only confined to the World Diabetes Day.
Alarming statistics indicate that as many as one out of 10 Kenyans is diabetic, causing worry given the rise in behavioural changes among Kenyans, particularly indulging in unhealthy eating habits, little or no physical activity, tobacco use and excessive alcohol drinking. These figures could be higher considering that many people have never been tested for diabetes.
The World Diabetes Day 2014 campaign marks the first of a three-year (2014-2016) focus on Healthy Living and Diabetes with this year’s activities specifically addressing the topic of healthy eating and its importance both in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and the effective management of diabetes to avoid complications.
DMI noted that diabetes and other chronic non-communicable diseases are no longer diseases of the wealthy as four out of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries that are still struggling with an equally high burden of communicable diseases.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, Diabetes causes approximately 4.8 million deaths annually, accounting for one in every 20 deaths in the world and at least one in ten deaths among adults aged between 35 and 64 years.
“These alarming figures continue to drive concerned agencies in partnership with the Ministry of Health to curb the prevalence of Diabetes in Kenya,” said Eva Muchemi, Executive Director, DMI Centre.
The initiative also seeks to highlight the need for more concerted collaboration among stakeholders at the national and county level to address challenges such as cost and accessibility to diabetes drugs. “The national government has collaborated with diabetes stakeholders and marketers to bring the cost of insulin down from as much as Sh2,500 per vial to between 200 and 500 at government hospitals.
We are glad to see more collaboration of these natures at both the national and county level as they are vital to ensure sustainable and equitable access to diabetes medicines and technologies,” said Dr Kibachio Joseph from the division of non communicable diseases.
The government is sensitising county governments to factor non communicable diseases amongst their priorities and budgets in a bid to raise awareness and improve care for persons living with these diseases.