Government in new drive to beat non-communicable diseases

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki. She has survived an ouster bid. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Non-communicable diseases are still responsible for over 55 per cent of deaths in Kenya, according to the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

While addressing participants during a stakeholders meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at a Naivasha hotel on Tuesday, the CS said the diseases further account for more than 50 per cent of hospital admissions.

However, the CS revealed that the government has already put in place a number of strategies and programmes aimed at fast tracking the achievement of Universal Health Care (UHC) in the country countering NCDs.


“These include, scaling up health insurance, the Health Insurance Subsidy Programme, the Medical Cover for the Elderly and People with Severe Disabilities as well as the Removal of User Fees at the public primary healthcare facilities,” noted the CS.

The Health CS voiced the need to engage community health workers to drive the preventive approach and offer targeted preventive services towards NCDs.

“You will note that the price of pneumonia vaccine in the free market in over 100 US dollars 100, yet Gavi has managed to secure the same vaccine for member countries at less than 5 US dollars. My question to you is, how do we extend this to NCDs?," She posed.

Ms Kariuki acknowledged that the country needed to do more considering that close to 25 per cent of the population was either not on treatment, or unknowingly living with high blood pressure and other heart related diseases.

The Health CS said the country is facing an increased burden following the rise of cases of NCDs, challenging the stakeholders to do more in order to tackle the vice. 

She said the cost of treating NCDs far outweighed the cost of prevention, hence the need to transition from predominantly curative to a preventive approach.


The ministry of Health, she said, was spearheading coordination and partnerships in the NCD, resulting in inter-agency coordinating committee, citing the screening of over 100,000 people for hypertension and enrolled over 1,500 children to receive insulin respectively.

With regards to service delivery, Ms Kariuki said that the government had developed programmes that were meant to enhance access to quality healthcare services.

She told participants that the cost of medication often exceeds 40 per cent of the total cost of treatment, appealing to stakeholders to take into consideration the procurement and supply of these medicines in Kenya.

Ms Kariuki said the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) had managed to negotiate the prices of some vaccines downwards, for the benefit of member countries such as Kenya.