Monthly Archives: July 2018

Youth-Driven Action on Non-communicable Diseases

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By: Kelvin Mokaya Obegi

Young people are aware of how drastically NCDs are already and will be affecting their generation in the future, especially if action is inadequate. However, a large majority of individuals with knowledge on how NCDs affect young people, believe that young voices in the NCD dialogues have been tokenized and frequently dismissed.

In different spheres of society, young people are already changing the future of NCDs; through research, participation in traditional and social media, efforts at the community level, civil society, and advocacy work as well as attempts at the decision-making level, as witnessed in Nairobi County. Dedicated youth-oriented NCD organizations have undertaken particularly innovative and impactful work to change the global NCD discourse.

Other youth organizations have played crucial roles in the prevention and control of NCDs. A good example has been seen through building national advocates focused on developing advocacy plans for the inclusion of young people in national NCD plans, and providing seed grants to ensure the projects’ initiation and viability.

A wake up call on Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)!

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Kevin K. Tanui.

Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA-Kenya).

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as lifestyle diseases are the diseases that cannot be transmitted from one person to another.  They own the name lifestyle diseases due to their nature of long duration and generally slow progression often brought about by the lifestyle that one adopts. Initially, NCDs were considered as diseases of the rich and the elderly but are now severely impacting all social classes inclusive of the rich, the middle and low- income social class.

According to WHO, NCDs are responsible for killing 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally with cardiovascular diseases accounting for most NCDs deaths of 17.9 million people annually followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9million) and diabetes (1.6 million).

Catalyzed largely by the four main modifiable risk factors- unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful alcohol use, NCDs are a dominant cause of poverty and a barrier to both economic and social development. According to the NCDs Alliance, most case studies of NCDs are preventable and premature but with its current trend, the global burden of NCDs is expected to increase by 17% by 2025.

Let’s be pro-active rather than reactive. Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key aspects in line with response to NCDs and we therefore urge the government, the civil society and those that possess political good-will to prioritize requisite commitments to NCDS in terms of creating awareness, policies, meaningful participation and budget allocations to NCD programs as this is only the time that we ought to be more optimistic about the future of the prevention and control of NCDS than any other time.


Tackle Teenage Pregnancy in Kisumu County

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By: Michael Okun Oliech

The chirping birds signals the dawn of a new day, young boys and girls of Kaila village in Seme sub county rising up to go to school but for Achieng (not her real name) it signals the dawn of washing old rags turned in cloth dippers for her baby.

At 16 years old she should be walking in the line between childhood and adulthood but she is already a mother. In 2017 Achieng joined form one at a local day school in east seme ward. The morning and evening walks with a boy from the same school turned into a relationship and it didn’t take long before she found out she was pregnant. She had to drop out of school and remained at home until she was due and delivered her baby. “I have stayed away from school for more than ten months and I intend to go back to school next year thanks to my parents who have been supporting me with the little that they have.” Achieng speaks

Achieng is not alone, she tells me four of her female friends are already pregnant and have dropped out of school and two of them have already been married off.

Most girls in seme sub county get pregnant before their 9th grade and find it difficult in balancing between parenthood and school life ending up dropping out of school. Only a few girls resolve to return back to school and pursue their education after getting pregnant. Besides curtailing girl child education, teenage pregnancy is associated with high maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

Statistics from the Kenya Demographic health survey 2014 has given a picture of girls whose education has been cut short due to early pregnancy. 15% of girls aged 15-19 years in Kisumu County have begun childbearing. Specifically, 3.1% are pregnant with their first child and 12.4% have ever given birth.

Stake holders in the education sector attributes the trend of teenage pregnancy among young girls due to the  rise of bodaboda riders who take advantage of the young girls after giving them free ride to school, poverty, disco matangas and inadequate sexual and reproductive health information and services.

More reproductive health interventions such as availing high quality age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education in and out of schools, offering free and high quality reproductive health services and awareness creation among men and women needs to be put in place in order to keep girls and boys in school.

There is also need for Governor Anyang Nyongo to implement his manifesto to the latter. One of the pledges he made in his manifesto was to carry out reproductive health education in communities, especially among the youth and provide safe contraceptives and to offer education on their use to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. So far this is yet to be done and I urge him to live up to his promise.

Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By: Mariah Akinyi

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people of all age groups, region and countries are at risk of being affected by cardiovascular diseases. Inhabitants of low-income and middle-income countries account for 75% of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for most NCDs deaths of 17.9 million people annually, which is 31% of all global deaths making CVDs one of the most dangerous killer diseases of this century.

According to the study done ministry of health, up to 50% of all hospital admissions and over 55% of all hospital deaths in Kenya are attributed to NCDs. This clearly shows that the issue at hand is serious and that the writing is on the wall for the relevant authorities to act accordingly.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have in the recent past been an eyesore in Kenya and the World in general. Them being chronic diseases which last for long periods of time and progress slowly, have affected many people in one way or another, directly or indirectly as a result of the ‘ravages’ that come with them. They are not caused by infectious agents (non-infectious or non-transmissible). NCDs include among others cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease that have really jeopardized the lives of the victims making them unable to effectively perform their respective duties. The blog focuses on unpacking information on cardiovascular diseases, underlying conditions that contribute to their spread outlining the types.

Cardiovascular diseases are generally diseases associated with the heart and which hamper the normal functionalities of the victim’s heart. They  inter alia include; Ischemic heart disease which is one of the most common types of cardiovascular disease and affects the circulation of blood to the heart muscle, Heart failure which occurs when the pumping action of the heart cannot provide enough blood to the rest of the body as needed, Rheumatic heart disease which begins with a bacterial infection in childhood, affecting joints and heart valves, Cerebrovascular disease also known as Stroke is a problem with the circulation of blood in the blood vessels of the brain, Peripheral vascular disease which affects the circulation of blood in the legs whose patients complain of pain in their calves especially when walking, Congenital heart disease which is a problem with the heart structure arising because of a birth defect  for instance having a small hole in one of the inside walls of the heart or they can be complex affecting the way blood flows through the heart and lungs.

Cardiovascular diseases are caused by a number of factors which if not controlled, can have drastic effects on the lives of the patients. Such include; high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, stress, obesity, family history of heart problems, drug abuse and some of the over the counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies among others. Its symptoms are; pains or pressure in the chest; pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back; shortness of breath; nausea and fatigue; light-headed or faint; cold sweat.

MedlinePlus, an institute of Health’s website for patients and their family and friends recommends measures that can be used to help people steer clear of the repercussions brought about by cardiovascular diseases. Such include; controlling your blood pressure by ensuring that it is checked regularly and taking the necessary lifestyle changes, keeping one’s cholesterol under control, staying at a healthy weight by trying to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium and added sugars and maximizing on fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Others are limiting the intake of alcohol, avoiding smoking, managing stress (e.g. by exercising, listening to music) ensuring that one gets enough sleep etc.

Therefore, we call upon the Nairobi County government to allocate funds to curb Cardiovascular diseases and to ensure that health workers are being trained to deliver tested and affordable measures to protect people from Cardiovascular diseases and help them recover.

Young People – Vulnerable to disease

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By:  Kelvin Mokaya Obegi.

Young people have a right to the highest attainable standard of health and well-being. They are our future in which we invest many hopes. Yet in reality, appropriate treatment, protection from known risk factors and effective prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are rarely offered by our societies or health systems.

According to WHO, more than two-thirds of preventable adult NCD deaths are associated with risk behaviour that starts in adolescence. The risk of suffering from these diseases is as a result of tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. On the same, globally, 150 million young people use tobacco, 84% and 78% of adolescent girls and boys are physically inactive, 11.7% of adolescents partake in binge drinking, and 41 million children under 5 years of age are overweight or obese.

In the last 50 years of the 21st century, overall mortality of children and adolescents decreased dramatically worldwide. The world has seen large investments in maternal, newborn, and child health causing great improvements for early years of life, but a low global investment in NCDs and injuries. As a consequence, adolescents benefitted less than younger children from the epidemiological transition. In 1955, all-cause mortality was remarkably higher in 1–4-year-old children compared to older children and adolescents for both males and females. Surprisingly, in 2004, the mortality of young men aged 15–24 years was two to three times higher than that of boys aged 1–4 years. Adolescents are a neglected generation that has mistakenly been perceived as healthy for the past 60 years.

Adolescence is a unique phase of human development, in which the rapid biological and psychosocial changes affect every aspect of the adolescent experience and lay the foundations for the rest of their lives. Adolescent brains have the capacity to change and adapt rapidly, which provides a chance to establish healthy habits, yet it also serves as a period of vulnerability to high-risk behaviour, and in fact, risk-behaviour and experimentation in this age group are understood as normative rather than pathological. Unsurprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use often starts in adolescence and lead to premature death caused by cardiovascular diseases later in life. To ensure effective prevention, the national government should formulate and implement policies on NCDs that protect this vulnerable group, creating health systems that offer services tailored to address the needs of adolescents.

Linking agricultural practices to nutrition will reduce Non-Communicable diseases

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno

Image: courtesy of Brand Kenya

As I walk through the village, I spot children eating green mangoes from the nearby tree. In close vicinity, there are several trees of avocados, lemons, oranges and not forgetting these trees lack owners. Availability of green foods in rural areas results in cases of the low prevalence of non-communicable diseases. This is attributed to eating habits in these areas. Compared to urban areas where the focus is on food rich in starch, communities in rural areas, though most are unaware, enjoy the benefits of healthier foods.

We should not forget the cases of vegetables planted across sewer line and the allegations of use of chemicals in the preservation of certain foods in urban areas. Kenya, for instance, is an agricultural country and we can take this advantage to promote healthier communities and reduce the burden of Non- communicable diseases. We should invest in research to bring on board the best agricultural methods. We should empower communities on the development of non-contaminated food in both beef and crop farming.

Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya. Allocation of resources to agriculture, capacity building of farmers, community sensitization and utilization of agricultural extension officers will go a long way in promoting the role of agriculture in fighting non-communicable diseases. Resource allocation will ensure fertilizers are available for farmers. Training farmers and the community in simple but risk-free technologies will prevent cases of contaminated vegetables. Use of agricultural extension officers in agricultural education will increase agricultural knowledge and integrate this knowledge with nutrition, thereby reduce non-communicable diseases. Collaboration between agriculture and environmental groups will tackle issues of soil pollution, prevent contaminated food and thereby reduce non-communicable diseases.

Filling gaps in Health Policies will prevent Noncommunicable Diseases among Young People

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Category : Naya , Naya Blog

By Daniel  Otieno

Kenya has efficient policies to address the Non-communicable diseases among young people. However there are gaps that need to be filled to make these policies effective. For instance, the guidelines on provision of youth-friendly services focus on the meaningful participation of adolescents in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of sexual and reproductive health services and programs of adolescents. However there is no specific budgetary allocation related to prevention of non-communicable conditions.

These guidelines do not contain indicators to track Non-communicable diseases among young people. In terms of the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy that came into effect in 2015, challenges exist in terms of dissemination of the policy as well as operationalization of the policy due to financial constraints. In addition, the Adolescent sexual and Reproductive Health policy focuses on persons below twenty years; therefore persons in the age bracket of 20-24 years are left out. Lest we forget is that Non-communicable diseases have not been prioritized in this policy as much emphasis is on sexual and reproductive health. The other policy is the Kenya Non-communicable diseases prevention strategy of 2015-2020 that provides the roadmap for prevention of non-communicable diseases in the country.

Even though this policy directly addresses the burden of non-communicable diseases in Kenya, the policy has not been rolled out to grassroots. In addition, this policy does not specifically focus on young people. Finally is the Kenya Health sector strategic and investment plan of 2013-2017. Enacted in 2014, this strategy intends to reverse and halt the rising burden of non-communicable conditions. However, the indicators in this strategy target the general population and are not specific to young people. To make the health policies relevant to the prevention of non-communicable diseases among young people, there is need to consider specific factors that make young people vulnerable to NCDs then set specific indicators that will track progress in the prevention of non-communicable among young people. There is also need to set budgetary allocations for non- communicable diseases and also ensure the structure of non-communicable diseases is rolled out to the counties. Finally, there is also need to integrate age brackets that have been left out in other policies such as Adolescent sexual and reproductive health policy.