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NCDAK spearheads fight against Non-Communicable Diseases in Kenya

Dr. Catherine Karekezi, the Executive Director of The Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Kenya (NCDAK), Member of the Board and Research Committee East African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance and a founder Director of Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre.

The Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Kenya (NCDAK) is leading advocacy efforts on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to create synergies and advance progress towards the sensitization of NCD targets for their prevention and control in the country.

During a Media round table hosted by the alliance Dr. Karekezi the Executive Director designate of NCDAK said NCDs, consist of four major diseases – Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs), Cancers, Diabetes, and Chronic Respiratory Diseases that account for 39pc of all NCD deaths and have emerged as a significant public health concern in Kenya.

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Dr. Catherine Karekezi, stated that the disease burden in Kenya has shifted from predominantly communicable diseases to a rapidly rising burden of NCDs and injuries, which now account for two-thirds of the disease burden.

Dr. Catherine Karekezi, the Executive Director of The Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Kenya (NCDAK), Member of the Board and Research Committee East African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance and a founder Director of Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre.

According to the NCD strategic plan 2021/22–2024/25, approximately 39pc of deaths in the country are due to NCDs, up from 27pc in 2014. It is projected that deaths from NCDs will increase by 55pc by 2030.

Dr. Karekezi also mentioned that food environment policy projects are underway in theee counties to create policy actions geared towards healthy diets.

She emphasized that although NCDs are prevalent, they are not a death sentence and can be managed properly.

Dr. Karekezi expressed concern about the use of herbal medicine to manage NCDs due to potential drug interactions that could further complicate the condition of the patient and advised patients to keep their physicians informed if they choose to use herbal medicine.

On her part, Dr. Shukri Mohamed, Associate Research Scientist in the Chronic Diseases Management Unit at the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), stated that unhealthy diets and under-nutrition are major factors contributing to the prevalence of NCDs.

Dr. Shukri Mohamed, Associate Research Scientist in the Chronic Diseases Management Unit under the Health and well-being Theme at the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC)

These diets consist of food and drinks high in energy (calories), salt, sugar, and fats (including industrial trans fats). She proposed a mandatory standardized Front-of-Package (FOP) system to empower consumers and create a healthier food supply chain, adding that nutrition labelling is necessary for promoting healthy diets and reducing NCD prevalence.

According to the World Health Organization, investing in NCDs has been proven to contribute to reduced health care costs and increased economic development.

The NCD burden threatens Kenya’s quest to advance Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a central pillar of the health reforms agenda that includes prevention and care for NCDs.

Gene Gituku
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