Health Ministry Launches Strategic Plan to Prevent and Control NCDs

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The Ministry of Health has today launched the National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2021/22-2025/26 in Nairobi.

The newly launched strategic plan comes at a time when there has been a marked increase in NCDs such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, mental illnesses, asthma, sickle cell disease and injuries.

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The strategic plan was developed by the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) – Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners from academia, international NGOs, county governments, patient associations and other government ministries.

This rising burden of NCDs is largely attributable to adoption of unhealthy lifestyles including tobacco use, consumption of unhealthy diets, insufficient physical activity and harmful use of alcohol.

Emerging data further shows that NCDs in Kenya are now occurring at younger ages and affecting those in the productive years of life, with over half of the NCD burden occurring to individuals aged less than 40 years and gravely affecting the most socioeconomically disadvantaged.

The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated health outcomes for people living with NCDs as seen by the higher rates of severe disease, complications and mortality amongst COVID-19 patients with NCDs.

These unfavorable health outcomes were compounded by the disruption of essential services witnessed during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya.

To address this urgent need, the Ministry of Health was quick to ensure continuity of services, by developing
interim guidance on provision of services for NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic and issuing an advisory to counties and other healthcare providers on sustaining NCD care throughout the crisis.

The launch of this strategic plan is a major milestone in the country’s response to NCDs and is in line with the Ministry of Health’s efforts to halt and reverse these alarming trends.

The strategic plan builds on the success and learning of NCD care during the COVID-19 pandemic and integrated
management of NCDs during emergencies and pandemics.

The strategy also includes a primary health care and
community- based approach through interventions ranging from awareness, screening and early detection to treatment and palliative care.

This will ensure improved access and lower cost of seeking care for NCDs.

It also seeks to build back on the gains made from Universal Health Coverage (UHC) rollout to make services accessible to persons living with
NCDs. Treatment costs remains one of the greatest challenges faced by persons living with NCDs.

In her remarks during the launch, the Chief Administrative Secretary for Health, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said, “The development of the Kenya National NCD Strategic Plan 2021/22-2025/26 is informed by the need to strengthen comprehensive multi-sectoral response to the increasing NCD burden“.

The Strategy places emphasis on populations wide prevention and control measures, as well as strengthening health systems for the whole continuum of care for NCDs.

Also speaking during the launch of the strategy, the head of the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Ephantus Maree, noted that the NCD strategic plan emphasizes the importance of partnerships and stakeholder engagement in the fight against NCDs.

“All actors, including those from the counties, the private sector, academia and research to adopt the contents of the Strategic Plan are urged to support the implementation of the plan.

The strategic plan is costly but the resources
available to implement the plan are substantially less than the total resources required to implement the strategic plan for the next five years.

Concerted efforts from all relevant stakeholders coupled with timely implementation will
substantially reduce the burden of NCDs and hence contribute towards the realization of the constitutional right to the highest attainable standards of health,” he said.

More finances need to be allocated towards NCD prevention and
control.

During the launch, the CAS also launched the National Framework for The Organization of Trauma Services which seeks to ensure universal access to trauma care, given the increasing burden of injuries in the country.

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