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Kakamega county intensifies screening as hypertension cases rise

 Blood pressure gauge. [iStockphoto]

Kakamega County recorded at least 51,109 cases of hypertension last year.

Speaking to The Standard during World Hypertension Day, Kakamega County Health Executive Bernard Wesonga attributed the high cases to a lack of screening and an unhealthy lifestyle.

In 2021, the county reported 40,096 but the numbers shot to 41,527 in 2022.

So far, the Ministry of Health has intensified screening at Level Two and Three hospitals and the campaign has also been taken to the household level across the 12 sub-counties in the county.

“We have 51,000 people living with hypertension and the cases are alarming but as a county, we have established screening awareness in every Level Three health facility because the biggest concern is that most of the victims have never screened for the disease,” said Dr Wesonga.

He warned the disease is a silent killer as it does not show any symptoms.

“The biggest problem is that if the disease is not screened early enough it turns into a chronic disease and in most cases when it manifests it might be too late to deal with it and that is why we get cases of mortality, especially from those people living with other chronic ailments,” said Wesonga.

He said they are using 4,200 Community Health Promoters to sensitise people to adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce risk factors. 

Wesonga advised residents to maintain a healthy diet, reduce salt intake and limit alcohol consumption.

“We need to scale up screening and ensure we integrate it with other health services so that anyone who visits our health facilities is tested alongside other diseases because if we do not integrate then hypertension is proving to be a disease that is affecting the delivery of health services not only at county level but also nationally,” he said.

“We want our people to exercise for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week and activities like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming can help maintain healthy blood pressure,” he added.

The Health CEC further urged locals to maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, limit intake of caffeine, reduce or avoid stress, and regularly monitor their blood pressure.

The Ministry of Health ranked Khwisero as leading constituency in cases of high blood sugar which stands at 8,631 according to a survey conducted last year.

It is followed closely by Lurambi with (7,318), Malava (4,693), Lugari (4,293), Butere (4,290), Shinyalu (4,111), Likuyani (3,592), Matungu (3,450), Mumias East (3,237), Ikolomani (3,109), Mumias West (2,598) and Navakholo recorded the lowest cases at 1,787.

Health stakeholders urged the county to also focus on people living with HIV/Aids saying that most mortality cases involve HIV/Aids patients who have hypertension.

“We are also keen on ensuring that all people living with HIV/Aids are screened for hypertension and time management,” said Linet Wambui who works with USAID under the Nuru ya Mtoto initiative.

“With HIV and non-communicable diseases we have seen and experienced high mortality rates and these people need to be subjected to regular screening and ensure those diagnosed are managed appropriately,” Wambui added.

Cornel Omore from USAID under Boresha Jamii said they are partnering with the Health Department by providing hypertension screening services in all the health facilities across the county.

“We encourage community members to go for early screening to detect the ailment as early as possible and we are collaborating with community health promoters to ensure we create awareness and sensitize our people to go for screening because it is the only way we can curb hypertension,” said Omore.

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