“We all worry that there is not enough data on NCDs – the real problem is how we use the data and systems we have to better address NCDs.”
Head of NCD Control Unit, Kenya Ministry of Health
Goals of the partnership with NCD Synergies
The demands on the NCD Division within the Kenya Ministry of Health continue to grow, but human resources are a bottleneck. Since 2015, NCD Synergies has supported Kenya’s Ministry of Health’s national planning efforts to equitably address the NCDs and injuries of the poorest. This has included:
- Supporting a Technical Assistant from 2015-2016 to support the finalization of one of the first integrated national strategic plans for NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Working with the Kenya Ministry of Health, Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission, and other national stakeholders to support the Kenya NCDI Poverty Commission.
- Kenya established a National NCDI Poverty Commission in December 2016 and will be releasing a final report in summer 2018.
- From 2015-2016, the NCD Synergies project supported a Technical Assistant focused on assisting with an integrated national strategic plan and equity-based target setting and metrics for NCDs and injuries, including a May 2015 meeting held by the Kenya Ministry of Health that convened nearly 50 stakeholders.
- A presentation by the NCD Division at Unite for Sight’s Global Health and Innovation Conference in New Haven, Connecticut in April 2016, sharing preliminary results from Kenya’s STEPS NCD Risk Factor survey launched that spring – one of the first surveys disaggregated by multiple factors, including socioeconomic status.
Kenya NCDI Poverty Commission
In December 2016, Kenya established a national NCDI Poverty Commission, focused on national priority-setting for NCDs in settings of poverty. Commissioners for the Kenya NCDI Poverty Commission are particularly interested in the relationship between NCDs and household metrics for poverty, in both rural and urban regions.
The Kenya NCDI Poverty Commission is chaired by Dr. Mary Amuyunzu-Nyamongo, the Executive Director and co-founder of the African Institute for Health and Development (AIHD) and Dr. Kibachio Joseph Muiruri Mwangi, the head of the NCD Division in the Kenya Ministry of Health. The National Commission also includes fifteen experts from a wide array of backgrounds across the Kenya government and partner organizations.
The story of NCDs and injuries in Kenya
Kenya is a large, predominantly rural country of approximately 40 million people in East Africa. Despite steady economic growth, almost half the population has continued to live in extreme poverty. While parts of the population are experiencing an epidemiological transition away from infectious diseases, the poor continue to experience an endemic burden of communicable disease, noncommunicable conditions, and injuries that are linked to risk factors like infections, food insecurity, unsafe cookstoves, and hazardous working environments.
The greatest impact of NCDs and injuries is being felt by the underserved majority of people living with chronic diseases in Kenya who bear a double burden of illness and poverty that, when addressed, will enable families and communities build more stable lives. Despite ample evidence of the burden of NCDs of poverty, global priorities continue to be focused either on infectious diseases or on lifestyle risk factors.
Since 2012, Dr. Joseph Kibachio of the NCD Division for the Kenya Ministry of Health has been leading a Technical Working Group to develop national targets for NCD treatment and control in Kenya. The group has prioritized several upcoming activities:
- Finalization of the national NCD Strategic Plan for Kenya, which takes an integrated approach across diseases
- Completion and analysis of the STEPS survey, to gain a better understanding of the risk factors influencing NCD burden in Kenya
- County-level implementation planning to support NCD service expansion in the devolved government model, in which counties are responsible for implementation of Kenyan health targets
- Development of an inter-agency coordinating committee for NCDs
- Kenya demonstrates strong leadership in East Africa with respect to academic medical centers and research facilities. The African Population Health Research Center (APHRC), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and a number of major universities including Moi University, University of Nairobi, and Aga Khan University, all contribute to population surveillance and research into effective NCD care for Kenyans.
- Through the technical working group, there is an opportunity to bring existing innovative treatment models and health system design experience from strong NGO efforts to the national NCD planning process in Kenya. In particular, a number of innovative public sector and NGO partnerships, including the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) and University Research Co., LLC (URC), hold innovative healthcare delivery models and strong systems for quality improvement.
- In March 2014, APHRC launched the Kenya NCD-Info website in partnership with the Kenya Ministry of Health and other partners committed to NCD research and care in Kenya. The website features Kenya-specific resources on lifestyle-related NCD risk factors and many treatments.
Page sources: Kenya MOH, World DataBank, UNICEF, UN MDG Database.