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Economy

CoG bets on donors to ease lifestyle diseases burden

Health secretary Cleopa Mailu (second right) with some Nyanza governors and participants during the inaugural Lake Region Economic Bloc Health Conference in March. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG
Health secretary Cleopa Mailu (second right) with some Nyanza governors and participants during the inaugural Lake Region Economic Bloc Health Conference in March. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

Governors are banking on direct financing by the international donors to subsidise treatment of lifestyle diseases as death toll rises to alarming levels.

Through their lobby, the Council of Governors (CoG), the county chiefs hope to ride on an agreement reached during the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva last month to have donors bankroll treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The governors said the donor funds would supplement county allocations to tame NCDs, which account for 100,000 deaths in Kenya every year.

Diabetes, cancer, mental illness and chronic respiratory problems top the list of NCDs whose drugs and equipment costs governors want donors to foot.

“The burden of non-communicable diseases continue to ail the healthcare system, thus the need for a partner with states to develop and implement strategies that seek to expand access to high NCDs care,” said CoG in a statement.

According to a report released by Health secretary Cleopa Mailu in April, cardiovascular illnesses and cancers, caused by changing lifestyles, are the leading causes of death after infectious diseases.

“Nearly a quarter of Kenyan adults are hypertensive.

“Of even greater concern is the fact that 92 per cent of this group are not currently on medication,” said Dr Mailu.

NCDs account for more than 60 per cent (or about 36 million) of deaths from diseases worldwide annually, a World Economic Forum report shows.

The global cost of five NCDs will reach more than $47 trillion over the next 20 years with mental illness accounting for the larger share of more than $16 trillion, the study adds.

Locally, the departments of health both at the national and county government levels have been put on the spot over the lack of policies and equipment to diagnose the diseases in time, leading to deaths.

This comes after the Ministry of Health had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding with Cuba to collaborate in the pharmaceutical sector and enhance Kenya’s specialised healthcare capacity.

Cuba will explore options of setting up shop in Kenya, with an interest in the manufacture of anti-retroviral medicines, anti-malarial drugs, vaccines, medical gases and equipment.

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