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Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Abdi Aman/FILE/Rockefeller Foundation

Capital Health

Deaths from non-Communicable diseases projected to rise in 10 years

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Deaths due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are projected to rise to 55 percent by the year 2030.

A retrospective analysis of findings from Kenya’s largest hypertension screening programme, AstraZeneca’s Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) reveals an overall burden of 54.5% and 20.8% for pre-hypertension and hypertension respectively, out of a sample size of 5.9 million participants.

The study also reveals that men have a higher prevalence of pre-hypertension at 59% compared to women who have a 52% prevalence rate. The highest rate of pre-hypertension was recorded among those aged 65 years and above, with a greater proportion attributed to rural populations – at 57% compared to urban dwellers at 55% respectively.

Emerging challenges such as COVID-19 have shown the need for continuity and ongoing action to tackle non-communicable diseases.

This has been highlighted by reports linking hypertension, cardiovascular diseases or their risk factors such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity with a greater risk of being severely impacted by COVID-19.

On the World Hypertension Day commemorated on the 17th October, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Rashid Aman, noted that COVID-19 has posed new challenges to NCDs service delivery not just in Kenya but throughout the world.

“We have put in place guidelines to facilitate continuity of services while still ensuring the safety of both patients and healthcare workers including telemedicine and or e-visits options and creating self-management plans and guidelines covering treatment of NCD patients with COVID-19,” he said.

Pre-hypertension occurs when blood pressure values are above normal levels but are still below hypertension levels. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pre-hypertension as a blood pressure reading that lies between 120/80 and 139/89.

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Persons identified with pre-hypertension are vulnerable to transitioning to hypertension and are also associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.

-The types Hypertension-

Primary hypertension also known as essential hypertension, most adults with hypertension are in this category.

Despite years of research on hypertension, a specific cause isn’t known. It’s thought to be a combination of genetics, diet, lifestyle, and age.

Lifestyle factors include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, stress, being overweight, eating too much salt, and not getting enough exercise. Changes in your diet and lifestyle can lower your blood pressure and risk of complications from hypertension.

Secondary hypertension is when there’s an identifiable— and potentially reversible— cause of your hypertension.

Only about five to ten percent of hypertension is the secondary type. It’s more prevalent in younger people with an estimated 30 pc of those ages 18 to 40 with hypertension have secondary hypertension.

The underlying causes of secondary hypertension include: narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your kidneys, adrenal gland disease, side effects of some medications, including birth control pills, diet aids, stimulants, antidepressants, and some over-the-counter medications, obstructive sleep apnea, hormone abnormalities, thyroid abnormalities, construction of the aorta.

To ensure continuity of care for persons living with NCDs, the Government has continued to provide guidance on access to preventive and treatment services for NCDs during the pandemic. As part of these efforts, an NCD and National COVID-19 working group has been established, chaired by the Ministry of Health and NCD Alliance Kenya and consisting of various partners, to ensure that NCD care is not disrupted during the pandemic.

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“As we mark this day, I am also pleased to mark six years of a programme that tackles hypertension by driving awareness and providing screening, training and affordable medicines. The Healthy Heart Africa programme has proven to be an effective primary healthcare intervention solution and our partnership has continued to serve Kenyans across the country, even as we push to achieve universal health coverage,” stated Dr Aman.

In support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, HHA is working to reduce premature mortality from NCDs, support the goal of universal health coverage and increase the health workforce in developing countries.

Global Sustainability at AstraZeneca Vice President Ashling Mulvaney said: “Our partnership with the Ministry of Health in Kenya, the KCCB and AMPATH Kenya, as well as other Ministries of Health and partners in Africa, has proven to be an effective model in building infrastructure, removing barriers and supporting collaboration within local healthcare systems to improve outcomes for patients.”

[Muthoni Waweru contributed to this article]

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