•The country will require at least Sh350 billion to fund NCDs activities in the next five years, but only six per cent of the funds can be accessed.
•Data from the Health ministry shows that NCDs were responsible for 39 per cent of Kenyan deaths in 2020, up from 27 per cent in 2014.
Kenya might be forced to relook her strategies in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) amid reports of funding gaps.
This is after it emerged that the country will require at least Sh350 billion to fund NCDs activities in the next five years, but only six per cent of the funds can be accessed.
This means the fight is chronically underfunded and remains a low priority compared to efforts to tackle infectious diseases.
Last year, the Ministry of Health launched its first ever costed National Strategic Plan 2021-2026 for NCDs that brought together all stakeholders in the health sector during the formulation of the plan.
The process included key partners such as patient organisations and leading economists
Head of NCD prevention and control unit at the ministry Ephantus Maree now roots for multi-sectoral approach and partnerships to ensure the ever rising burden of NCDs in the country is halted.
“We are experiencing challenges when it comes to the issue of resources. It was just last year when we developed our next five-year strategic plan and that SP [strategic plan] is the first ever costed Strategic Plan for NCDS in this country,” Muree said.
“The resources we require for NCDs for the next five years is Sh350 billion, yet out of that, what we will get is about six per cent, and that gap is huge.”
This comes even as health experts continued to warn of the rising cases of diabetes and hypertension among Kenyans mostly due to late diagnosis.
Data from the ministry shows that diabetes prevalence has been on the rise from two per cent in 2015, and is currently at 3.3 per cent with experts estimating a further increase to 4.5 per cent by the year 2025.
The prevalence of hypertension also remains high as one in four persons is known to be hypertensive in Kenya, although only eight per cent are on treatment and four per cent of them have achieved control.
This has been attributed to rising prevalence of NCD risk factors such as excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high body mass index, high cholesterol, high blood glucose, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
“With the late presentation, late diagnosis and delayed identification of complications seen in the patients diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes, we tend to experience a more malignant and severe course of these diseases as compared to other developed countries,” Aman said.
“This leads to a higher economic burden to the patients, families and government, over stretching needs and increasing the overall burden in the health system, posing an impediment to the reduction in morbidity, mortality and economic burden of NCDs in Kenya.”
Data from the Health ministry shows that NCDs were responsible for 39 per cent of Kenyan deaths in 2020, up from 27 per cent in 2014.
The World Health Organization estimates that, by 2030, deaths from NCDs are likely to increase by 17 per cent globally and by 27 per cent in Africa.
The global health agency has also linked nearly one in five Covid-19 deaths in Africa to diabetes.
(edited by Amol Awuor)