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HIV still leading killer in Kenya, new government survey shows

Health & Science

HIV remains the leading cause of death in Kenya, a new report released by the Government has shown.

The Global Burden of Disease, which is a report meant to guide policy formulation in the Kenyan health sector, shows the trends of health loss and leading causes from 1990 to 2013.

The report, prepared by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA), lists lower respiratory infections as the second leading killer in Kenya followed by diarrhoea diseases, tuberculosis and malaria. The report pointed out that non-communicable diseases like stroke, diabetes and ischemic heart disease are killers that should be taken seriously.

However, it is not all doom and gloom as the report notes that Kenya has significantly reduced death of mothers during delivery from 506 per 100,000 live births in 2004 to 277 deaths in 2013. This figure remains high compared to the regional average of 230 deaths.

While Kenya has achieved a considerable decline in death of children under the age of five, the mortality rate still remains high with 58 children out of 100,000 dying.

Kenya stands fifth among countries with the least child deaths in the region after Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros and Eritrea. Somalia has the worst record of child deaths with 114 children out of 100,000 dying.

"Since the 2000s, childhood survival in Kenya has improved, reaching a mortality rate that is lower than most countries in the region. But under-five mortality is still high in Kenya," the report notes.

Due to this reality, life expectancy in Kenya has also grown marginally after a slump at the beginning of 1990 and hitting the greatest low between 2000 and 2002, mainly due to HIV.

While in 1990, life expectancy was 62 years for males and 64 years for females, it went to below 60 years before rising again to 63 (males) and 68 (women) in 2013.

The other factor that has led to death and disability is road accidents, which have increased exponentially from 1990 to 2013. The worst year for road carnage was 2005, which saw over 320,000 injuries. This dropped to slightly above 300,000 in 2013.

"Road injuries are long absent from the top 10 causes of health loss in Kenya," the report adds.

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