Majority of the people who have succumbed to COVID-19, had underlying disease conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
These are Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), whose burden to the health system is on the rise, the Chief Administrative Secretary for Health, Dr. Rashid Aman disclosed today during the daily COVID-19 briefing at Afya House.
Hypertension is the commonest cardiovascular condition globally and the same applies in Kenya. It is estimated that 1.13 billion people live with this condition worldwide representing 31% of adult population.
In Kenya about 6.1 million adult live with hypertension representing 24% of the adult population. The Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) January to March 2020 data from 21 reporting counties on hypertension indicate that a total of 67,465 hypertensive patients were seen and reported.
Of these 18,231 cases were males while 49,144 were females. “This is just a tip of the ice-berg. Many more are yet to be diagnosed,” the CAS noted.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Health has prioritized halting and reversing the NCD burden in the Big Four Agenda, under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pillar and stressed that COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the people living with NCDs hence the Ministry, in collaboration with County Governments, has put up measures to ensure that NCD clinics remain operational during this period.
“All the diabetes and hypertension clinics are operational, and I therefore, encourage persons living with NCDs to visit the clinics for regular checkup, refilling of their medications and nutrition counselling,” the CAS advised.
He urged the people living with diabetes and hypertension, to consume healthy diets based on the locally available foods. “A balanced diet is critical for preventing and managing non-communicable diseases, and their related complications during this COVID-19 season and beyond,” he advised and disclosed that those who adhere to a healthy diet are able to maintain the acceptable blood sugar levels, manage their blood pressure levels and maintain the ideal body weight.
“A healthy diet has a variety of foods that provides the right amount of nutrients, calories and need not be expensive,” he added.
The Acting Director General for Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth also noted that majority of people who have died of Covid -19, have two existing conditions being with diabetes and hypertension, which are the highest risk factor for COVID mortality. Those with diabetes’s are at a higher risk followed by hypertension and cancer.
Dr. Amoth also added that those with HIV positive, have a lower risk of dying of Covid because most of them are on either ART and retroviral therapy and adheres to treatment thus achieving viral suppression and immune system is good.
“We want to appeal to those who have other pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension that adherence alone to prescribed medicine will make your exposure reduce and if you were COVID 19 risk of death would significantly reduced,” he advised.