More Kenyan children getting diabetes due to unhealthy eating habits

November 22, 2016 2:55 pm
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Type 1 diabetes which affects one out of 10 children and also referred to as childhood-onset diabetes, is caused by inability of the pancreas to produce insulin which breaks down sugar to energy/FILE
Type 1 diabetes which affects one out of 10 children and also referred to as childhood-onset diabetes, is caused by inability of the pancreas to produce insulin which breaks down sugar to energy/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – A total of 25,000 children in Kenya are living with diabetes type 1, a trend that experts blame on poor dieting, genetics and unhealthy lifestyle.

Type 1 diabetes which affects one out of 10 children and also referred to as childhood-onset diabetes, is caused by inability of the pancreas to produce insulin which breaks down sugar to energy.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in both children and adults is likely to rise to 4.5 pc by 2025 from the current 3.3 pc if the trend is not checked.

“Parents have a role to play in ensuring that their children eat a balanced diet and are engaged in activities as exercise. Only then shall we be able to control the disease,” said the Head of Division of Non-Communicable Diseases, Ministry of Health (MoH) Joseph Kibachio

One of the initiatives taken by MoH in addressing diabetes in children is through the “changing diabetes in children” program where all children under the age of 18 can access medication for free in all public health facilities.

“Any child with diabetes and is below 18 years of age can access medical treatment at any of the public health facilities. This will include the insulin and injectables,” he stated.

According to the IDF Diabetes Atlas, the diseases risk factors in Kenya are as follows; 9.5pc of the adult population aged 20-79 years has impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), 5.9pc of the population has been classified as obese with 22pc being overweight.

The estimated number of people with diabetes is projected to grow 135pc by 2040 to account for 1,125,000 people up from the 478,000 recorded in 2015.

These would pose a challenge to how well prepared the country’s health system is to handle the disease burden.

The IDF Atlas showed that in 2015, Sh3.99 billion was used for diabetes treatment and is expected to increase to Sh8.34 billion by 2040.

Additional costs will include lost productivity and lost opportunities for economic development.

Kibachio noted that the Ministry of Health is working with various organizations to significantly reduce diabetes drugs costs as well as ensure that public health facilities are well stocked.

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