Kenya health minister says strengthening action on lifestyle diseases amid COVID

FILE PHOTO: Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Media

Kenya’s Ministry of Health said Wednesday it has developed targeted interventions to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases that are linked to a higher toll of COVID-19 fatalities.

“We have come up with interim guidelines to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases in the light of the pandemic,” Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe told a virtual forum on the nexus between lifestyle diseases and COVID-19 held in Nairobi.

The government has put robust measures in place to facilitate the seamless provision of care to patients with chronic diseases and shield them from the risk of contracting and succumbing to coronavirus, he said.

It has implemented interventions including adequate funding, training of health workers, public awareness and timely diagnosis to strengthen the response to non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, Kagwe said.

Ministry of Health data show that non-communicable diseases account for 50 percent of hospital admissions and 42 percent of deaths in Kenya.

Kagwe said that urbanization, environmental pollution, and sedentary lifestyles have escalated the non-communicable disease crisis in Kenya amid strain on household budgets and public health infrastructure.

Ephantus Maree, head of the Non-communicable Diseases Unit in the Ministry of Health, said chronic ailments have accounted for about 43 percent of COVID deaths since the onset of the pandemic in March last year.

Investments in research, surveillance, and screening at the community level are key to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in Kenya, he said.