Non Communicable Diseases blamed for COVID-19 fatalities

Written By: Christine Muchira
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A survey has shown that people living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer are more likely to be severely ill when infected with Coronavirus disease. 
Majority of the people who have succumbed to COVID-19, had underlying disease conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
This is according to Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr Rashid Aman who spoke at the daily COVID-19 press briefing.
He decried the challenge caused by the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) burden on the country’s health system.
In Kenya about 6.1 million adult live with hypertension representing 24% of the adult population.
The Kenya Health Information System January to March 2020 data from 21 reporting counties on hypertension indicate that a total of 67,465 hypertensive patients were seen and reported.
Hypertension is the commonest cardiovascular condition globally and the same applies in Kenya.

¨Of these 18,231 cases were males while 49,144 were females. This is just a tip of the ice-berg,¨ said Aman.

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Adding that, ¨Many more are yet to be diagnosed. This is just a tip of the ice-berg and many more are yet to be diagnosed.¨

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These even as the country nears the 7000 mark after 268 cases test positive for COVID-19 bringing total tally to 6941.

Dr Aman said the Ministry of Health has prioritized halting and reversing the NCD burden in the Big Four Agenda, under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pillar.

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COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the people living with NCDs hence the Ministry, in collaboration with County Governments, has put up measures to ensure that NCD clinics remain operational during this period.

He called upon people living with diabetes and hypertension, to consume healthy diets based on the locally available foods. 

¨A balanced diet is critical for preventing and managing non-communicable diseases, and their related complications during this COVID-19 season and beyond,¨ urged Dr Aman.

The guidelines for healthy diet

Eat the right portion of whole grains & cereals like maize, rice, millets, sorghum, wheat; roots tubers like arrowroots, cassava, sweet potato and green bananas. 

Consume plenty of vegetables such as green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, sukuma wiki, traditional vegetables like managu, terere, kunde, mrenda, saga, pumpkin leaves and starchy vegetables such as butternut, pumpkin and other vegetables like cabbage, sweet peppers, green peas.

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Eat a variety of fruits that are in season and readily available in the market such as oranges, mangoes, ripe bananas, apples, water melon.

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Eat plenty protein foods, such as beans, green grams, lentils, njahi, pigeon peas, groundnuts and seeds alternating with animal protein foods such as fish, lean meats, poultry, and eggs.

Take fat free or low fat dairy and dairy products, such as skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt and fortified soya beverages.

Restricted amounts of sugar salt, alcohol, trans fats such as hardened fats and margarines and saturated fats from animal sources and fatty meats.

Avoid sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, sweetened teas and flavored drinks.
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