By David Kipkorir
The NCD Alliance has asked the Kenyan government to honor its commitment to recognize and advance the role of nurses in diabetes prevention, treatment and care as the globe grapples with COVID-19.
Commemorating the World Diabetes Day 2020 last month, the Alliance is urged both county, national governments and healthcare organisations to invest in the recruitment and training of more nurses so that they can provide the best possible support to people living with diabetes.
This year’s theme was ‘Nurses: Make the Difference for Diabetes’. The NCD Alliance recognized that nurses are at the heart of the country’s healthcare and vital in supporting people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions.
The areas the alliance want the Kenyan government to tackle include quality nursing education, investment in the recruitment and retention of nurses and maximizing the contribution of nurses in providing preventative and primary care among others.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that develops when the body does not make enough insulin or is not able to use the insulin produced effectively or both. The Ministry of Health (MOH) records indicates that between 2 per cent to 5 per cent of Kenyans are living with Diabetes.
In Kenya, 60 per cent of the adult population living with diabetes remains undiagnosed. The majority have type 2 diabetes and resides in urban areas and are of working age. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in conjunction with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has called for an investment in education and training for nurses as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is set to increase the burden of diabetes disease in Kenya.
IDF urged the global health community to increase the number of nurses trained and employed by 8 per cent a year to overcome alarming shortfalls in the profession by 2030. The UN Health agency estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya at 3.3 per cent and predicts a rise to 4.5 per cent by 2025. However, it says two-thirds of diabetics may be undiagnosed.
It also estimates that the total investment required to achieve the targets outlined in the Social Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 stand at 3.9 trillion USD – 40 per cent of which should be dedicated to remunerating the health workforce.
Recently, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that most of patients who died from COVID-19 had diabetes, hypertension or both. It warned those with the conditions to exercise caution.
The MOH director-general of at MOH Dr. Patrick Amoth has been quoted saying that chances of dying from COVID-19 if one has both diabetes and hypertension are very high unlike if one has only one of the conditions.
The director-general observed that fewer people living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya had died from COVID-19 due to the anti-retroviral drugs they are taking, which helped boost their immunity.
Recent statistics show that just over half a million adults were living with diabetes in Kenya in 2019. About 40 per cent were unaware of their condition. Deaths from cancer are estimated at 7 per cent while cardiovascular diseases account for 13 per cent