Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become the second biggest killers in Kenya after HIV/AIDS, with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes leading.
According to medical practitioners, the NCDs are currently responsible for over 50 percent of hospital admissions and over 55 percent of hospital deaths in Kenya.
A recent study by The Lancet predicts that Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, obesity and lung cancer will be the major causes of death in East Africa by 2040.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco use show up in people as raised blood pressure, increase blood glucose, elevated blood lipids and obesity, thus increasing the risk of NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers.
Globally, the leading metabolic risk factor for NCDs is elevated blood pressure, to which 19 percent of global deaths are attributed, followed by obesity and raised blood glucose.
According to the 2015 STEPwise survey, more than half (56 percent) of Kenyans have never been measured for raised blood pressure, while only 12.2 percent and 2.3 percent of Kenyans have been measured for raised blood sugar and cholesterol levels respectively.
Regularly tracking vital health numbers can save one’s life and save one millions of shillings in medical bills. This was the key message at the Know Your NumbersTM free health checkup organized by Doctors for Healthy LivingTM (D4HL), a not for profit social enterprise by a group of doctors as part of the launch for Know Your Numbers Campaign.
Speaking at the free medical camp, Dr. Robert Mathenge, a renowned cardiologist and Founding member at D4HL said, “Many people are not aware of their predisposition to non-communicable diseases. This eliminates the benefits that come with preventive behavior. However, regularly tracking of vital health numbers and seeking early detection, combined with healthy living can bring huge health and economic gains.”
‘’Know your numbers,” refers to key markers of health like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. Doctors check most of these numbers at annual health check-ups, however, most Kenyans do not go for these check-ups.
The campaign aims to create awareness on the need for people to always know their numbers so as to keep them within a healthy range and reduce their risk to common non-communicable diseases.
During the event, people were checked for all the 5 numbers and also educated on healthy living to ensure their numbers remain optimal for prevention and management of NCDs. In addition, people received free screening for cervical and prostate cancer and H.Pylori test.
Officiating the launch event, Dr. Peter Cherutich, Director of Preventative and Promotional Services, Ministry of Health called upon stakeholders from various sectors to cooperate with each other to reduce risks associated with NCDs in Kenya and promote interventions to prevent and control them.
“In order to strengthen efforts and progress that has made in prevention and early detection, treatment and management of chronic illness, I call upon industry players in health, finance and insurance, education, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and others who impact peoples’ wellbeing in one way or another to collaborate closely. Our vision is to attain a 25% reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2020 through inclusive and collective multi-sectoral interventions,” said Dr. Cherutich.
Following the launch, the campaign will now move to other parts of the city where people will receive free screening on these vital numbers and receive education on healthy living. The campaign will also be rolled out throughout the 47 counties over of the next three years.