100,000 Kenyans die from Non Communicable Diseases each year


NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – The Ministry of Health has launched its first ever report on the state of non-communicable diseases in the country with key findings indicating that they account for the loss of 100,000 lives each year.

The Survey which was conducted between April and June last year, shows that Kenya is dealing with a double burden of disease given the increasing cases of both non-communicable and infectious diseases.

According to the report, cardiovascular illnesses and cancers are the leading causes of death after infectious diseases and are mostly due to the current lifestyle patterns.

“These results are not only sentinel to the health sector but to all other sectors of the economy in line with the multi sectoral nature of non-communicable diseases,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu on Friday.

The report further found that the diseases were straining Kenyans financially and slowing down the economic progression of the country by up to six percent.

Dr. Mailu added that the Ministry had through the National Hospital Insurance Fund embarked on modalities that would expand the outpatient cover to include non-communicable diseases.

“This will address the barriers to healthcare access as a result of high out-of-pocket health expenditure. I am also glad that we are now working with various County governments to prioritize the control of these diseases,” he said.

Health Principal Secretary Dr. Nicholas Muraguri announced that the Ministry would use the data provided by the Survey to come up with policies that would manage and prevent these diseases where possible.

He said that Kenya was staring at a crisis if nothing was done to contain the changing disease dynamics.

“About 40 percent of deaths in Kenya are caused by non-communicable diseases each year. It’s almost like a looming epidemic,” he said.

In addition, close to 10 percent of Kenyans aged between 40 and 69 years were said to have a cardiovascular disease risk of 30 percent or above.

These Kenyans could develop cardiovascular disease or die from a cardiovascular-related complication in the next 10 years if they do not seek treatment.

“Nearly a quarter of Kenyan adults are hypertensive. Of even greater concern is the fact that 92 percent of this group are not currently on medication,” said the CS.

“This is an alarming finding given the complications of uncontrolled raised blood pressure on the heart and blood vessels that results to multiple end organ damage.”

On the other hand, the Study found that cancer accounted for seven percent of overall national mortality. In women, the leading cancers are breast, cervical and esophageal while in men it is esophageal, prostate and Kaposi sarcoma.

“Existing evidence shows that the annual incidence of cancer is close to 37,000 new cases with an annual mortality of over 28,000,” read part of the report.

The report also found that 34 per 100,000 people are affected by breast cancer while 25 per 100,000 women have cervical cancer.

In men, esophageal, prostate cancer and Kaposi sarcoma account for 17.5, 15.2 and 9.2 per 100,000 men respectively.

“These estimates are conservative and could be higher because many cases go unreported and unaccounted for. The leading cancers in Kenyan women are breast, cervical and esophagus,” observed the report.

Dr. Mailu added that addressing the threat posed by cancer was crucial. “We are looking at setting up cancer centers across the country to make it easier for Kenyans to seek early treatment,” he explained.

The Survey, dubbed STEPwise, had 6,000 respondents from various parts of the country aged between 18 and 69. It was jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. A repeat Survey is planned for 2020.