Thousands could die of Covid-19, survey reveals

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 00:00 |
A medical worker takes blood samples of a client during a free medical camp. Among the diseases tested was diabetes and hypertension. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Clifford Akumu

Nearly a quarter of Kenyan households have a member with pre-existing health condition, thus predisposing them to the vagaries of coronavirus.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report, 17 per cent of households have a member with a pre-existing condition.

New data show thousands could die of the respiratory disease if the government relaxed social distancing measures in a bid to achieve herd immunity.

It further revealed that communicable diseases are still a major concern in the country with the deaths far outpacing those from Covid-19.

Leading conditions

For example, deaths caused by stroke in Kenya reached 11,976 of total deaths a year while coronary heart diseases killed 7,771, 2.76 per cent of total deaths.

According to the WHO, malaria killed 11,922 people in Kenya in 2017 which translates to an average of 32 deaths per day.

The KNBS survey revealed that a majority of the households that reported having a member with a pre-existing medical condition cited hypertension, diabetes and asthma as the leading conditions.

The burden of lifestyle diseases across the country is alarmingly high with about 34 per cent saying they had a member of the household who had suffered from hypertension, followed by diabetes at 19.9 per cent and asthma at 16.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, 12.4 per cent of the households reported that a member of the household sought health services over the period under review painting a picture of how “our health seeking behavior had changed in the shadows of coronavirus.”

Radio information

Among those households, majority cited government hospitals as the health care service provider that was visited at 30.5 per cent, private hospitals and clinics at 24.5 per cent and government dispensaries at 17.9 per cent. 

Pharmacies or chemists came at a distant fifth at 6.8 per cent.

According to the survey, many Kenyans still rely on radio to access information.

According to the survey, almost all adults — 99.4 per cent —aged 18 years and above have heard about coronavirus. 

The survey further noted that nearly all 97.2 adults aged 18 years and above were aware that washing hands with soap and water is a preventive measure against the virus.

Fever and dry cough were reported by majority of individuals as the most known symptoms of coronavirus at 87.4 per cent and 78.5 per cent, respectively. 

The highest proportion of 48.2 per cent of households had benefited from home schooling as a coping mechanism to continue learning.

But 24.6 per cent of households with members who usually attend any learning institution were not using any method to  learn at home.

The survey carried between May 2 and 9 this year interviewed 15,840 individuals with a response rate of 97 per cent with a distribution of 52 per cent female and 48 per cent male.  Majority of respondents were aged between 18 years and 39 years.

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