Kenyans urged to get tested for diabetes as burden continues to rise



NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Kenya’s attention was on Thursday focused on addressing the growing burden of diabetes with a call to its citizens to get tested, as nations marked World Health Day.

Through a theme drawn around preventing and managing the non-communicable disease, Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu noted that 1.8 million Kenyans aged between 20 and 79 had diabetes, although the number could go higher given that majority had not yet been diagnosed.

Dr. Mailu revealed that the Ministry had taken several steps to address the problem among them a nationwide survey, whose results will be released on Friday, to determine the extent of the burden.

“The results will inform policy formulation and give strategic direction required to address the magnitude of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in Kenya,” he said.

Dr. Mailu at the same time launched a Fundus camera worth Ksh3.8 million from the Fred Hollows Foundation. It will increase documentation in eye screening among diabetics; a first step in improving diabetes services nationally.

Studies done locally indicate that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya ranges between 2.7 percent in rural areas and 14 percent in urban areas.

“Half of the people in the world are undiagnosed which is why the disease is alarming and remains hidden,” explained the CS.

He added that the increasing rural to urban migration coupled with a rising adaptation of unhealthy lifestyles were to blame for growing diabetes cases in Kenya.

“More people are migrating from rural to urban settings and are confronted with consumption of unhealthy diet and reduced physical activity due to over reliance on motorized transport,” he observed.

World Health Organisation Country Director for Kenya, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate said that the disease was seen to be increasing in low income and middle income countries.

While urging Kenyans to joins hands in preventing and managing diabetes, Dr. Mandlhate also reminded attendees that it cut across all social classes.

Pamoja tushinde ugonjwa wa kisukari,” she said.

Head of Curative Department, Dr. Isaq Odongo stressed the need to empower families to adopt healthier eating and lifestyle practices.

The number of people living with diabetes globally is estimated to grow to 642 million by the year 2040, if nothing is done to control it. Today it is estimated that more than 415 million people are living with diabetes worldwide.