By Samuel Ouma
Cancers, heart diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases are the most prevalent Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) in Kenya.
The Ministry of Health said the diseases affect mostly young Kenyans below 40 years as they account for 53 percent of all NCDs patients.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said NCDs are now contributing to 39 percent of all deaths, attributing the growing burden among young people to poor lifestyle choices and a polluted environment.
Dr. Mwangangi spoke during the launch of the 2022-2026 Kenya National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases in Nairobi. The strategy put more weight on prevention and control measures, as well as strengthening health systems.
Dr. Gladwell Gathecha from the non-communicable diseases department, during the event named tobacco use, consumption of unhealthy diets, insufficient physical activity, and harmful use of alcohol as risk factors.
She further noted that 19 percent of Kenyans are either obese or overweight. Only 17.5 percent of men are overweight compared to 38.5 percent of women. On the other hand, 13.7 percent of those who are obese are women, whereas 4.7 percent are men.
NCD Alliance-Kenya, a local non-profit organization, chair Dr. Zipporah Ali asked the government to provide free treatment to NCDs patients.
“Most people with NCDs cannot access essential medicines, so a strategy is just one thing. We also need to look at control of food because many cannot afford special diets,” stated Dr. Zipporah.
NCDs are causing a negative economic impact on families, said Dr. Mwangangi.