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DIABETES IN KENYA – HOPE IN THE MIDST OF THE INFLATIONARY STORM

1.2 million Kenyans are living with diabetes

Just as the Kenyan shilling is gaining strength against the dollar and bringing hope to Kenyans who had despaired due to high inflation, the cost of fuel goes up again! If this was a status update in Facebook, the statement would have definitely ended with a click (Nkt)!

There was a reason for Kenyans to at least smile, especially those living with diabetes, yesterday, following a decision by the government to reduce the cost of insulin treatment from Sh 1,200 to 200 to mark world Diabetes Day.

The Government estimates that about 1.2 million Kenyans are living with diabetes, a chronic condition that is characterized by high levels of blood sugar in the body.  If left untreated diabetes leads to failure of body organs, resulting in life threatening complications such blindness, kidney failure, heart failure, stroke, limb amputation and impotence in men.

ONE MILLION AMPUTEES PER YEAR

As reported on the Daily Nation, “we have about one million amputations yearly due to diabetes and one person dies every eight seconds due to complications from the disease”, says Dr Eva Njenga, a consultant physician and endocrinologist.

Nutritionists normally recommend some special foods and vegetables to diabetic patients that can help their body system control the disease in order to avoid other health complications. However, due to tough economic times, diabetics are finding it impossible to keep up with the special diets. The cost of the food has become another thing to worry about on top of their medication.

Speaking to Michael Oriedo of The Standard, Joyce, a diabetic patient, says she cannot afford to buy the foods recommended by her nutritionist: “I cannot afford to buy the foods anymore. The prices have increased to unmanageable levels”, she said.

Many patients have also complained about a shortage of drugs especially in public health facilities were the drugs are cheaper, and as a result they are forced to get them through the private market in pharmacies, where the prices are much higher.

The head of the division of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) in the Public Health Ministry, Dr William Maina, says unless significant efforts are made to stem the rise in diabetes, health care services across the country will soon be crippled by the costs of treating the diseases and its complications.

In the last three years the price of vial insulin sold to the government has gone down by some 30 per cent. The government’s move to lower the cost of treatment for this life threatening disease is indeed a step in the right direction in helping Kenyans who suffer from this debilitating disease.

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