Kenyans warned of high risks related to diabetes

Kenyans participate in a past diabetes walk to raise awareness and funds towards treating the disease.Picture:David Mbewa
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Although the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that women of age bracket 60 to 69 are most likely to suffer from diabetes, sadly in Kenya about 58 percent of women are overweight and not physically active hence their predisposal to the disease.

These women are mostly educated, employed or enjoying relatively economical and comfortable social lifestyle that is the cause of weight issues.

Women in such social setting drive or take motorised transport even for short distances, rarely take physically demanding assignments at workplace or at domestic level and hardly ever get involved in physically exercises.

Assuming these women are in the fertile child birth bracket, it is clear that they could suffer diabetes during pregnancy because the WHO lists risks as older age pregnancy, excessive weight gain, lack of exercise or physical activity and unhealthy diet.

Women in the comfortable lifestyle and child birth age bracket are hence frequently warned by medical experts to be weary of the effects gestational diabetes which causes birth of overweight babies, congenital malformations, complications during child birth, still births and death of a mother.

The same could also expose the child to risk of increased obesity and even type 2 diabetes yet this particular ailment is preventable and can be managed by medication, diet and physical exercise.

Regular tests and treatment as well as blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure control are named as key in tackling diabetes which afflicts 4.2 percent of women in Kenya.

In 2017, the World Diabetes Day celebration’s was marked under the theme “Women and Diabetes — our right to healthy future.

Kenyans of all walks of life including medical, health experts and ordinary rural women celebrated the day, aware of the dangers of the disease.

According to heath workers, diabetes is the major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, lower limp amputation and nerve damage.

According to Dr Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary for Health, the World Diabetes Day presents an opportunity to create awareness on how the spread of the disease can be prevented and managed.

Mailu noted that the disease was on the rise with between three to five percent of Kenyans already suffering. He expressed fears that it was on the rise.

“This figure is projected to rise to seven percent or 2.5 million people by 2020 if the trend is not checked”, explained Mailu. He noted that the Government through the Ministry of Health was committed to raising awareness and offering a platform for screening, diagnosis and care for those who are diabetic through partnerships with the 47 county governments and other stakeholders dealing with non-communicable diseases.

Mailu noted that the Ministry of Health has been partnering with a leading manufacturer of diabetes drugs, Roche and Novo Nordisc, in running the Changing Diabetes in Children (CDiC) programme to provide insulin and care to children with diabetes since 2012.

Currently 1,300 children with diabetes are under care at the scattered hubs and centres where those services are provided.

Ministry of Health has also been keen to ensure that the successes recorded in ensuring no child died due to lack of insulin was sustained.

Under the project admissions, complications and school dropout rates have continued to reduce among children.

While partners were committed to providing insulin even after 2017, other partners were required to support other logistics.

It is anticipated that at the end of the children’s sustainability phase, county governments through their health departments will take over the management of children in their respective areas to ensure the life-saving programme is sustained.

“Women and children are key targets under the wider diabetes campaigns,” said Mailu, adding that “the ailment can affect pregnant women causing immense danger to both mother and child”.

He cautioned: “Diabetes complicates labour and child birth leading to an increase to both maternal and neonatal mortality.”

So far, the national government has made it mandatory that health managers across the counties prioritise screening for diabetes before and during ante-natal clinics at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The county heath personnel have also been directed to be firmly vigilant in identifying women at risk of gestational diabetes and to facilitate their follow up after delivery because they stood at 50 percent risk of suffering from diabetes later in life after pregnancy.

As the World Diabetes Day was marked, about 20,000 individuals from across the country were screened and those found to suffer from the ailment or at risk were linked to care-givers.

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