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Nakuru Assembly to debate bill on more funding for preventive medical care

Nakuru residents may soon benefit from free medical checkups following passage of a motion making it mandatory for the County government to conduct annual screening for non-communicable diseases (NCD) at ward level.
The motion sponsored by Kabazi Member of County Assembly Dr. Peter Mbae compels the devolved unit to set up fully equipped and staffed comprehensive screening centres in all its 55 wards.
“One of the biggest burdens with non-communicable diseases is that, those who have them have no idea, and so if you do not know you are sick you are unlikely to seek treatment.
Non communicable diseases such as cancer, asthma, diabetes and hypertension among others do not have distinct symptoms like malaria or pneumonia which are associated with fever and headaches. Thus, people only find themselves diagnosed with the disease when they go for other checkups,” said Dr. Mbae when he moved the motion on the floor of the County Assembly.
The legislation which heavily borrows from the Kenya National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDS: 2015-2022, highlights the importance of prevention, as a means to reduce the number of patients seeking treatment.
It mandates the Department of Health to come up with strategies and policies that will govern the screening centres when they are rolled out.
“Most low income earners are unlikely to go for routine medical checkups which are sometimes costly. The high death rates among our grassroots population has been due to late diagnosis, delay in seeking treatment, low income and fear associated with the diseases that are viewed as a death sentence.
Early detection gives you the best chance for getting the right treatment quickly, avoiding any complications.
By getting the correct health services, screenings, and treatment you are taking important steps toward living a longer, healthier life,” stated the MCA
According to the chair of Kenya Society of Hematology and Oncology Dr. Sitna Mwanzi, who is also an oncologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, more women, are going for screening than men but late after diseases have advanced.
Women also lead in new cancer cases with 28,688 getting the disease compared to 19,199 men, representing 56 per cent of the total new cases.
The Kabazi MCA said the financial burden of treating and managing NCDs threatens progress towards the Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.
“The majority of NCD cases go undiagnosed. The figures we are working with are only circumstantial. Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sick and die sooner than people of higher social positions, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco and have limited access to health services.
The rapid rise in NCDs is projected to slow down poverty reduction initiatives in low-income areas of this County, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care and loss of breadwinners,” said Dr. Mbae.
The motion which has been approved by the County Assembly Speaker targets to increase budgetary allocation to cater for screening.
“This huge chunk of money is spent on curing ailments that could have been easily averted through screening and early prevention measures. People must be encouraged to preemptively seek medical advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle.
They need to be taught to lower their risk of various conditions or diseases by maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and level of physical activity” observed Dr. Mbae.
Kenya has the highest number of cancer-related deaths across East Africa, according to new data by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cancer kills 32,987 Kenyans a year, an estimated 40 per cent of the 83,426 deaths reported in the three East Africa countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, according to the World Health Organization’s Globocan report that analyses new cases among men and women.
Tanzania comes second with 28,610 cases while Uganda had the least deaths with 21,829 or slightly above 25 per cent of all the cases reported by the three countries.
The prevalence of diabetes in Kenya has more than doubled in the last three decades, accounting for 20 per cent of deaths in the country.
With a national prevalence rate of between 3.1 per cent and 4.6 per cent (between 1.4 million and 2.1 million Kenyans), experts are warning that the cases are rising at an alarming rate.
Today, one in every 17 Kenyans has diabetes, and 12,890 people in the country died from both diabetes and high blood glucose in 2018.
A report jointly published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Lancet on World Health Day in 2018, shows that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya was six per cent in 2017.
Close to 100,000 persons die every year from complications related to hypertension, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
One of the contributing factors, Ministry of Health Director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko said, is that half of Kenyans have never been screened for pressure.
“That is why we are working to ensure that screening of blood pressure and diabetes is done at primary health care service providers (health centres) level,” he said.
According to the 2018 Health Sector Performance Review Report for 2016/2017, hypertension is the leading Non Communicable Disease (NCD) detected during outpatient visits. This contributes to 50 per cent of total hospital admissions and over 40 per cent of facility mortality.
By Jane Ngugi

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