POST-COVID-19 ACTION

NCDs: Kenya has reason to worry, and must act fast

More than half of hospital beds are occupied by persons living with non-communicable diseases

In Summary

•Little has been done to provide the resources required to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.

•If there is anything, we need to take home is that we need urgent action on non-communicable diseases. We should not wait for the next pandemic.

A nurse at a hospital ward. Majority of the admitted patients suffer NCDs.
REALITY: A nurse at a hospital ward. Majority of the admitted patients suffer NCDs.
Image: FILE

If there is anything that many generations will learn about the year 2020, then it is the occurrence of one of the most eye-opening pandemics in the globe.

I call the Covid-19 pandemic eye-opening because despite the toll it has taken on humanity, it has provided an opportunity for humanity to identify some of the gaps that exists in our health systems.

The dirt and filth that exist in our systems was laid before our eyes in black and white. With such an exposure, humanity has been offered an opportunity to re-evaluate some of the measures required to direct the course of humanity.

In a country where more than half of hospital beds are occupied by persons living with non-communicable diseases, this pandemic was a reminder that there is need to take urgent action on these diseases.

The daily Covid-19 briefings were a bitter pill for the community of persons living with NCDs to swallow as they were reminded of their high risk to succumb to the complications of severe Covid-19.

As the number of Covid-19 cases in the country rose, fear among persons living with NCDs increased; most of them stopped visiting their clinics and their health status took a nosedive. At the beginning of the pandemic, Kenyans pegged their hopes on their resilient nature.

However, such hope progressively dimmed for persons living with non-communicable diseases as they were greatly affected due to their high-risk status as well as lack of social support from the relevant stakeholders.

Harrison Andeko: "Covid-19 has accelerated the loss of our people’s pride, dignity and lives."
Harrison Andeko: "Covid-19 has accelerated the loss of our people’s pride, dignity and lives."

A link between non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases exists. While research has demonstrated this link, little has been done to provide the resources required to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.

The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases poses a social and economic developmental challenge to our country as it impacts on the workforce and the economy.

An increase in the burden of NCDs in the country posses huge challenge to the country’s development as it thwarts development efforts either through its impact on the workforce or the challenge it posses on economy of the country.

 

It is now clear that non-communicable diseases should be included in all conversations on health. The pandemic revealed the need to fast track health system strengthening at all levels.

Covid-19 has accelerated the loss of our people’s pride, dignity and lives. If there is anything, we need to take home is that we need urgent action on non-communicable diseases. We should not wait for the next pandemic.

Harrison Andeko is a programme officer at NCDAK with great passion on advocacy and prevention of diseases.