Malaria cited as top killer disease in Kenya

A child is immunised against polio in Embu County. A report has shown that a lot of births and deaths are not being registered. [PHOTOS: FILE /STANDARD]
By GATONYE GATHURA and LONAH KIBET

NAIROBI, KENYA: Malaria, followed by pneumonia were the leading killer-diseases in the country last year. Having claimed more than 46,000 lives, the ailments have proved to be serious threats to the economy.

For the first time, cancer has surpassed Aids as the third largest killer, having claimed 13, 720 lives compared to 11,448 deaths caused by HIV.

According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2014 comparative figures for the last four years show Aids and malaria to have been on  a slow but steady decline while cancer and pneumonia and other respiratory disease have been on the rise.

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The other causes of deaths that should get Kenyans worried are road traffic accidents, which have been on a steep rise, just approaching the 5,000 mark for the first time.

BIRTHS AND DEATHS

However, medical experts would dispute some of these figures claiming most deaths recorded as having been caused by pneumonia, cancers and respiratory illnesses are actually Aids related complications.

But still, the report shows a lot of births and deaths in Kenya are not being registered especially in arid areas apart from in Garissa Country where registration reached 70 per cent.

Nationally, only about 60 per cent of births were registered last year and less than half of births were recorded in the same period.

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On the brighter side, there was an impressive rise on the number of people joining the National Insurance Fund going up by more than 13 per cent.  Majority of the new members, 70 per cent, were from the informal sector; a factor attributed to a better coordinated recruitment campaign.

The national government, the report says spent less money on health with much expenses having been devolved to the counties during the reporting period.

But on the social scene allocations to orphans, vulnerable children and older persons went up dramatically during the period. The funding for the elderly went up from Sh1,519 million in 2012 to Sh3,168 million last year. The allocation to orphans rose from Sh1,081 million to Sh4,763 during the same period.

THE NUMBERS

According to the Survey, Malaria accounted for 12.2 per cent (23,789 deaths) of registered deaths while Pnemonia accounted for 11.8 per cent (22,918 deaths) last year.

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Cancer, Aids and tuberculosis followed closely, crossing the 10,000 mark, taking the third, fourth and fifth positions. Each recorded 13,720, 11,448 and 11,186 cases respectively for the same year. Other major causes of death were anaemia (8,134), road traffic accidents (4,942), other accidents (4,857), heart disease (4,544) and meningitis (4,265).

It was also shown that the total registered births increased by 8.6 per cent from 801, 815 in 2012 to 870,599 in 2013.

Garissa, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Embu counties had coverage of over 70 per cent.

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Malaria pneumonia Economic Survey