Diabetes, cancer cases pose threat to Covid-19 fight

Monday, June 15th, 2020 00:00 |
ODM party leader Raila Odinga takes a coronavirus test at Kemri in Mbagathi hospital in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/COURTESY

Seth Mwaniki 

The government has issued guidelines to hospitals on the management of Covid-19 patients with lifestyle diseases, saying the high rate of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country could dent the war on the virus.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe yesterday raised the alarm that people living with NCDs such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer face a risk of becoming severely ill if they contract the virus. 

The country reported 137 more cases, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the disease to 3,594. 

In a departure from the past, the ministry did not announce the number of those who have died or recovered from the disease and the breakdown of regions affected. He, however, said Nyeri still has nine people who have tested positive.

“ I want to urge all people with NCDs to follow medical advice and regime to medication, while at the same time observing Covid-19 containment measures of hand washing, social and physical distancing and wearing of face masks in public places,” he said.

Kagwe said NCDs were a public health concern because of the rising number of deaths linked to lifestyle diseases.

“Non-communicable diseases contribute to one in every three deaths and account for half of all hospital admissions in the country,” the CS said.

The rate of NCD deaths according to the CS is projected to rise up to 55 per cent by 2030.

Currently, 24 per cent of the country’s population is living with high blood pressure while five per cent  have high blood glucose.

Kagwe singled out Nyeri County where prevalence is highest in the country with about 700 new cancer cases reported each year.

“Nyeri was selected as one of the Universal Health Care pilot counties due to its high NCD burden. We thank the county government for putting in place measures to halt and reverse its rising burden of NCDs, this include, initiating vibrant NCD clinics at primary care level and the integration of NCDs in community health services. 

“This is strengthened by clinics in the county referral and sub county hospitals, with an established cancer treatment centre and the adoption of the ministry of health standardized data management tools for NCDs,” he said.

Kagwe spoke during a press briefing in the newly opened Othaya Hospital,which was put under Kenyatta National Hospital.

The CS warned  those not taking the Covid-19 protocols seriously, saying that the government will act firm on them.

He cited the casual operation in market places where some traders have defied wearing of masks rule and hand washing, thus exposing others traders and buyers to the risk of contracting Covid 19.

“We are aware that some traders don’t even care to follow our guidelines for own safety and safety of others and we will not allow them to continue this way. 

“I am also urging buyers to avoid traders who are ignoring our advice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health Director General Dr Patrick Amoth said cultural practices of various communities should be respected when burying their members who die of Covid-19.

Dr Amoth said that where some cultures do not allow their loved ones at night, Covid-19 should not be an excuse to do so.

“We have our guidelines on how dead bodies as a result of Covid-19 should be handled and so long as same is followed, then waiting for 24 hours to burry people as per their culture is not an issue,” he said

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga promised to continue working with the ministry to contain the spread of the disease.

Nyeri County has so far registered nine positive cases out of 459 samples so far where three of them are of health workers who contracted the disease in their line of duty.

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