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Non-communicable diseases a time bomb, East Africa warned

Health & Science

NAIROBI: Medical experts from the East African Community (EAC) have warned that by 2025, Kenya and her neighbours will be losing as many lives to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as to infectious diseases.

Kenya loses about 150,000 persons annually to NCDs. A large proportion of this results from cancer, which is the third highest killer disease in Kenya with about 30,000 deaths recorded annually. “Cardiovascular related diseases do claim twice as much. Cardio-related diseases lead to many other complications like kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure,” said Prof Gerald Yonga from the Kenyan delegation of NCD alliance.

About 24 per cent of the Kenyan population (16-69 years) suffer from high blood pressure, but only 22 per cent are aware. “Of the 22 per cent, only eight have access to effective medication. The rest are just waiting for the complication to take a toll on them,” he said. Yonga was speaking at an EAC experts’ workshop convened to find ways of pushing respective regional governments to address NCDS.

“We need NCDs reduced by 25 per cent as its costly treatment is an economic set back. But this requires enacted laws like those on tobacco and alcohol control. Currently, most rehabilitation centres are private and out of reach for the affected middle and low class,” he said. Yonga said the Kenyan government has recognised the need to address NCDs. “Today, we have a department that addresses both curative and preventive measures,” he said.

Danish NCD Alliance Development Director Susanne Volqvartz said governments must create laws and provide funds to tackle NCDs.

“As a global body, our purpose is to strengthen the regional civil societies to push their governments to not only create laws but make it their responsibility to provide funds,” she said.

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