Nyong’o raises alarm over low diabetes awareness levels in rural areas

Health ministry enters into a partnership with leading pharmaceutical Novo Nordisk

In Summary

•The framework has brought on board 13 county governments and a consortium of other organisations including supply chain organisations.

•“The main objective of the initiative it to accelerate access to affordable treatment for patients living with diabetes in Africa in a sustainable manner in four key areas; capacity, affordability, reach and empowerment,” Emil Larsen said.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Image: File

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong’o has raised alarm over low diabetes awareness in the country, especially in the rural areas.

Nyong'o, who is also the Health Committee chairperson at the Council of Governors, noted that it is high time the country strengthened awareness programmes in the rural areas, adding that most people in such areas do not know the kind of interventions they need to manage their interventions.

Nyong’o spoke on Tuesday during the marking of 100 years of insulin. Data from the Health ministry shows that 552,400 adults in Kenya aged between 20 to 79 years have diabetes.

During the virtual event, the ministry entered into a partnership with leading pharmaceutical Novo Nordisk and other key partners to establish an implementation framework to launch the Affordability Initiative for diabetes care in Kenya.

The framework, which is the next level of intervention in diabetes by Novo Nordisk, has also brought on board 13 county governments and a consortium of other organisations including supply chain organisations, implementing facilities (faith based and county government), and several other allied bodies.

“The main objective of the initiative it to accelerate access to affordable treatment for patients living with diabetes in Africa in a sustainable manner in four key areas; capacity, affordability, reach and empowerment,” said Emil Larsen, the drug manufacturer's corporate vice president for Middle East and Africa.

Larsen is the Business Area Middle East, Africa and CIS at Novo Nordisk. Other key partners in the initiative include the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Health Association of Kenya, Kenya Diabetes Study Group, Kenya Defeat Diabetes Association, Mission for Essential Drugs & Supplies, Medtronic Labs, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya, Philips Therapeutics Ltd. and the Royal Danish Embassy.

Considering the economic vulnerabilities faced by many of the patients living with diabetes in the country, the initiative seeks to address key objectives such as ensure affordable insulins supplied reach patients.

It also seeks to reach more people with quality care and treatments and empower people with diabetes to better manage their condition while at the same time building the capacity of health care workers to address the diabetes management challenge.

Endocrinologist Dr Eva Njenga said 40 per cent of mortalities in the country can be attributed to Non Communicable Diseases. “Most of these deaths are preventable. We must make sure that diabetes care is established in all our healthcare systems including the universal healthcare programme,” Njenga said.

Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Danish Embassy in Kenya Henrik Larsen, lauded the initiative as coming at the same time as the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, a monumental and history changing event that has led to patients living with diabetes being able to live and thrive. Kenya is one of the pilot countries for the Affordability pillar of iCARE. The initiative presents a unique opportunity for the country to leverage much needed partnerships with the private sector.

“The government is working on strengthening data collection from counties through the Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) to improve on diabetes care and intervention,” the head, division of NCD prevention at the ministry, Dr Ephantus Maree, said.