“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
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 Control Unit 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
Goals of the partnership with NCD Synergies
The demands on the NCD unit continue to grow, but human resources are a bottleneck. NCD Synergies has hired a full-time Senior Management Consultant to be fully seconded to the NCD Control Unit at the Kenya Ministry of Health. The Consultant will support finalization of one of the first integrated national strategic plans for NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa and will then assist in planning to equitably address the NCDs and injuries of the poorest.
- 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.