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Eliminating Drug and Substance Abuse Will Prevent Noncommunicable Diseases Among Young People

Eliminating Drug and Substance Abuse Will Prevent Noncommunicable Diseases Among Young People

Category : Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno

Availability of alcohol and tobacco, affordable price, peer influence, inadequate implementation of alcohol control act and inadequate preventive education on drug and substance abuse are responsible for drug and substance abuse among young people. Commonly abused drugs in Kenya include Prescription Drugs – including sex enhancement drugs, tobacco, Miraa or khat, Inhalants and Solvents, and alcohol. Due to legal penalties linked to use of bhang, Heroin, and Cocaine, abuse of these three is usually in secluded places though their effects on individual health are usually higher compared to the effects of other substances. Use of tobacco and alcohol are among the risk factors for non-communicable diseases including the mouth, throat cancer, and lung diseases. In 2015, a survey of 17 counties on alcohol and drug abuse conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), revealed a high use of drugs and alcohol by school-going teenagers. According to this study, alcohol was the most abused whereas prescription drugs was the most accessible.

In Kenya, the ministry of education in conjunction with the ministry of public health has developed national school health policy that targets reduction of non-communicable diseases among school going children. However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases.

World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is

In 2015, a survey of 17 counties on alcohol and drug abuse conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), revealed a high use of drugs and alcohol by school-going teenagers. According to this study, alcohol was the most abused whereas prescription drugs was the most accessible. In Kenya, the ministry of education in conjunction with the ministry of public health has developed national school health policy that targets reduction of non-communicable diseases among school going children. However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases. World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is

However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases. World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is need for providers of youth friendly services to prioritize rehabilitation from addiction in their programs. Provision of information on drugs and substance abuse cannot be underestimated. Education on drug and substance abuse will encounter the myths and misconceptions that drugs promotes academic prowess or eliminates stress. Finally provision of guidance and counseling and peer education will provide young people with life skills to avoid involvement in drug and substance abuse. With the political will to eliminate drug abuse and substance abuse, the effects of tobacco will, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and lung diseases among young people.

Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role. Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is need for providers of youth friendly services to prioritize rehabilitation from addiction in their programs. Provision of information on drugs and substance abuse cannot be underestimated. Education on drug and substance abuse will encounter the myths and misconceptions that drugs promotes academic prowess or eliminates stress. Finally provision of guidance and counseling and peer education will provide young people with life skills to avoid involvement in drug and substance abuse. With the political will to eliminate drug abuse and substance abuse, the effects of tobacco will, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and lung diseases among young people.


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Early Education Best Way to Protect Young People from Non-Communicable Conditions

Early Education Best Way to Protect Young People from Non-Communicable Conditions

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Category : Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno

Published by the standard on May 8, 2017.

Image courtesy: Aga Khan Foundation

There is need to sensitize young people on how to prevent non-communicable diseases. This is because diseases such as cancer and heart conditions can be prevented if treatment is sought early or if healthy eating habits are adopted. The world Health Organization identifies cancer, diabetes, and respiratory and heart conditions as the four main non-communicable diseases. Poor eating habits, use of alcohol and tobacco, and lack of exercise are the main causes of these conditions. In 2009, the Ministry of Education adopted the national school health policy, with one of the targets being reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases among school children.

The policy has been instrumental in ensuring that smoking zones and bars are away from learning institutions. Physical activity has also been made part of the curriculum. School feeding programs should be accompanied by sensitizing on healthy eating habits and learners should be encouraged to always eat healthily. It is a reality that all young people prefer junk food that is often rich in cholesterol, thereby increasing chances of obesity and heart problems.

Secondly, there is need for more awareness on drug abuse and its role in cancer and respiratory diseases. Due to peer pressure, affordability and availability youth have fallen prey to drug and substance abuse. Preventive education would, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and respiratory diseases. Physical education should also incorporate sensitization on good health including fighting obesity and stroke. Peer education should also be encouraged to increase information flow on non-communicable diseases among children.

 

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Breast Cancer drug a step in the right direction

Breast Cancer drug a step in the right direction

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno, Nairobi

Friday, March 31, 2017, DAILY NATION

Breast cancer survivors will now be receiving their free dose of medicine at Kenyatta National Referral Hospital. This is thanks to the efforts of the government and advocates of resource allocation towards the treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

But as the government makes Herceptin, the breast cancer drug, available, it must also focus on sustainability of the program. It should encourage competition in the medical field by ensuring county governments have a greater role in training medical personnel.

Health workers’ role in the program cannot be underestimated. They must be motivated through refresher courses, incentives and an enabling environment that includes the availability of screening equipment.

The community, particularly the youth, must be sensitized and motivated to adopt health-seeking behaviors, including an early screening of cancer. The national school health policy, which, among other things, targets elimination of non-communicable diseases among learners, should be implemented.

Besides increased financial allocations, the state should also strengthen referral mechanisms to other public health facilities. Sensation should target everyone, including hoteliers, as young people who consume junk food and develop cardiac problems and obesity is their kin.


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Breast Cancer drug offers reprieve for many patients

Breast Cancer drug offers reprieve for many patients

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno, Nairobi

Friday, March 31, 2017, The Standard

Survivors of breast cancer now have a reason to smile as they receive their first free dose of medication from Kenyatta National Hospital. This is thanks to efforts by the Government and everyone who has been advocating for resource allocation for the treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases. As we make Herceptin, the breast cancer drug, more readily available, we must also focus on the sustainability of free cancer treatment. How? By encouraging competition in the medical field and ensuring that county governments have a greater role in training medical personnel.

The role of health workers in the implementation of free cancer treatment cannot be underestimated.We must motivate health workers through refresher training, good incentives and enabling environments that include the availability of screening equipment. In addition, young people, in particular, must be sensitized and motivated to adopt health conscious behaviors including early screening for cancer.

We must use this opportunity to implement school health policies that, among other things, target the elimination of non-communicable diseases including cancer among learners.The community must be educated on the benefits of seeking treatment early, healthy eating habits, physical activity and avoiding drug and substance abuse. Finally, the availability of cancer drugs should not stop with Kenyatta hospital but extend to other counties. We must also strengthen referral mechanisms to ensure that cancer survivors in other counties are able to seek specialized services in public health facilities. Sensitization should target everyone.


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Enact National School Health Policy Urgently

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno (Network For Adolescents and Youth of Africa)

Sunday, March 12, 2017, The Standard

In 2009, the government through the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation launched the national school health policy.

This was in recognition of the numerous health and other social challenges identified among young people. Key among the challenges identified was disease prevention and control, including prevention of non-communicable diseases.

The World Health Organization information series on school health: Document 2 identifies tobacco use, behaviors that result in injury and violence, alcohol and substance use, dietary and hygienic practices, sedentary lifestyle and sexual behavior as major contributors to mortality, morbidity, and disability among the age group of 5-18 years. The development of national school health policy was therefore meant to promote health seeking behavior and enhanced knowledge on the linkages between environment and health. Progress has been made in some thematic areas, for instance, nutrition. However eliminating non-communicable diseases still experiences hitches.

Keeping tobacco and alcohol joints away from learning institutions will also reduce cases of drug abuse. We also promote healthy eating habits through improved programs.


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KENYA SHOULD PROMOTE THE RIGHT TO HEALTH OF KEY POPULATIONS

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Key Populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM)  face high rates of HIV prevalence. However, many lack basic human rights protections and access to HIV services that would help reduce HIV infections and meet the 2006 commitment of member states to “ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups.”

MSM have not for long been recognized as an integral part of Kenya’s society. The society disapproval and criminalization of same sex relations in Kenya foster disclosure and minimal public health interest in MSM. As a result there has been paucity of information on health related risks that MSM are exposed to by their lifestyles, the prevention and health care strategies. Continued stigmatization and discrimination at heath care facilities, lack of confidentiality and capacity to accept the sexual minorities by health care workers deny them their right to the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental human right.

There is a need to deal with the situation by putting policies in place that cater for the LGBTIQ.  While some countries allow free practice of homosexuality others have put in place laws that criminalize it. Kenya is among those countries that criminalize same sex under section 162 of the Penal Code.

We have to understand that, when one’s sexual orientation is different, it does not make them lesser human being. LGBTIQ people therefore have rights entitled to them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTIQ have a right to treatment despite the laws that have been put in place and therefore there is a need for the health care providers to provide health care service without discrimination and stigmatization.

According to the UN, the legal prohibition of same sex relations in many countries, in conjunction with a widespread lack of support or protection for sexual minorities against violence and discrimination, impedes their enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

As a way forward, particular attention should be paid to LGBTIQ youth and the culture shift necessary in society as a whole to ensure that their health needs are protected. Additionally, there is need to create safe space for LGBTIQ devoid of isolation both within our community and the health care setting. Moreover education and creation of awareness on human rights and right to health are a considerable strategy.

For the right to health of sexual minorities to be respected in the health care system, there is need for change of attitudes and perceptions among the health care workers towards the sexual minorities and vice versa. There is also need for strengthening of the health facilities to ensure that they effectively address the health need of the sexual minorities.

The government should ensure that health care services including HIV and STI services are available and accessible to the sexual minority groups void of stigma and discrimination by the health care workers.   To improve utilization of health care services by sexual minorities in Kenya, health care providers will also need capacity strengthening on issues of sexual minorities in relation to health and HIV services.  This will be instrumental in understanding sexual minorities concerns about stigmatization of their sexual behaviors, orientations and identities in health facilities.

 

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We Must Target the Origins of Homophobic Violence: Religion and Culture

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Image Courtesy: Advocate.Com

Homophobia is among the major issues affecting Kenyans today. If we are to make meaningful strides, we must also address societal and contexts that create and fuel homophobia in the Kenyan society.

Research has shown that, acts of abuse and violence against LGBT people are a clear symptom of a broader societal problem that must be treated structurally if we are to ever succeed in reducing and eradicating violence against LGBT people in the country.

Homophobic beliefs drive homophobic conduct that occurs in all domains of societal life: at home, at school, in politics, on television, on the Internet, in churches, in organizations, at work and on the streets.

In Kenya, 96 % of its residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept. Traditional religious and cultural values play a substantial role in these figures. Leaders within the three dominate religions in Kenya, Catholic, Anglican and Islamic, condemn homosexuality and transgenderism as signs of decadence, disease, and immorality.

Any discussion about homophobia in Kenya must absolutely reference religion and culture. In general, Religion and culture have played a key role in the fueling of homophobia throughout society. Religious leaders and traditional leaders in Kenya continue to teach extremely negative views about homosexuality and gay people and have taken on an almost national leadership role in the demonization of gay people under the veil of religion.

People who are born into certain religious and cultural environments and grow up hearing toxic anti-gay messages develop negative views about the LGBT. Young and impressionable minds can internalize the notion that gay people are inferior and that homosexuality is an “abomination,” something unnatural and deviant. This infecting of the mind with distorted and false information is an extremely powerful process and in many cases lays the foundation for future anti-LGBT abuse and violence.

Article 32 of the Kenyan constitution provides the “right and freedom of religion.” Well that should also include freedom from religion. I believe that the religious and cultural views of the “majority” should not be used to oppress the minority.

While those who practice particular religions are free to believe whatever they wish to believe and express their views, freedom of expression as stated in article 33 of the Kenyan constitution does not extend to incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred that— (i) constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or (ii) is based on any ground of discrimination specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4) of the Kenyan Constitution. Furthermore article 33 states that, in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, every person shall respect the rights and reputation of others.

Any effort to seriously reduce or eradicate homophobic abuse and violence in society must address the roles that religion and culture play in the development and fueling of homophobic messages about LGBT people. Together we can defeat the forces of hate and in the process create a better society and world for everyone.

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Why We Must Prioritize Non Communicable Disease Prevention and Control

Category : Naya Blog

By DICKSON OLUOCH  (@dicque2)

Non-Communicable Diseases are not transferred from one person to another hence, they are acquired as a result of people’s lifestyle being classified as ‘rare’ diseases that affect both the rich and old, Non-Communicable Diseases are increasingly establishing themselves as global terrorist, especially among the middle and low-income nations mostly affecting adolescents and youths. According to World Health Organization statistics, 30% premature deaths in adults results from behavior that begun in adolescent and 30% of deaths in Kenya are due to Non-Communicable Diseases which translates to 72 deaths in a day as a result of cancer and other diseases such as Cardiovascular diseases (46%), respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Non-Communicable Diseases depletes family and community resources with the huge medical fees and generally leaving a trail of low economic productivity and development, increasing dependency burden as a result of deaths and reduces the quality care life expectation .The constitution (Chapter 43, 1a, 1b) guarantees one to attaining the highest attainable standard of healthcare looks more than good mirage never to be achieved as most cases are referred to outside countries for treatment.

Young people must be meaningfully involved in the battle against non-communicable diseases, not just as a constitutional right but as an important part of society, and with more knowledge and internalize the effects of NCDs and what exactly affects them. This can be achieved by increased advocacy, public support-stakeholders, strengthening legal and policy environment and also advocacy for integration of NCDs and Youth Friendly Services (YFS).The media is critical in the fight against non-communicable diseases. Effective use of media will not only generate public support for increased prioritization of NCDs,

There is a need to increase domestic resource allocation for prevention, control, and management of these diseases, the major risk factors of NCDs are physical inactivity, poor diet, tobacco and alcohol use are highly modifiable at the individual level, there is a need for increased prioritization by policy makers to tackle non-communicable diseases. Effectively engagement in budget-making process for the upcoming financial years at County level including in key process of developing County Integrated Development Plans, Strategies, at the National level will lead to allocation of more funds towards NCDs and provision of highly accessible, affordable and available services to all its citizens by 2030 achieving the global Sustainable Development Goal number 3 on Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

Civil society organizations, stakeholders and young people must now effectively mobilize themselves in the fight against NCDs by increasing NCDs advocacy, creating awareness, adhering to good nutrition which is a big contributing factor, investing in research on NCDs to have adequate data, awareness on drug and substance abuse, coming up with strong and good policies and legal environment on NCDs.

The author is a Youth Advocate with NAYA KENYA

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Youth Friendly Services Key To Tackling Teenage Pregancies in Homa Bay

Category : Naya Blog

By Mackiche Mackiche @mackiche_victor

Homa Bay County has a youthful population with people below age 15 making up nearly half (48%) of the total population.

Teenage pregnancy has remained a major health and social concern because it’s highly associated with high maternal and child morbidity and mortality. In Homa bay, teenage pregnancy is not only a reproductive health issue, but is also an all rounded issue as it directly affects the current and future socio-economic well-being of women.

According to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, 33% of girls aged 15-19 years in Homa Bay County have begun childbearing this is considerably higher than the national level, specifically, 2.1% are pregnant with their first child and 31.2% have ever given birth, compared to 3.4% and 14.7%, respectively, at the national level.

Homa Bay County’s age specific fertility rate for girls aged 15-19 (adolescent birth rate) is 178 births per 1000 girls; about 2 times higher than at the national level of 96.

Teenage pregnancies often result from low use of contraceptives and/or unmet need for contraceptives. In Homa Bay County, 3 in 5 (56%) currently married girls aged 15-19 use modern contraceptives which is high compared to 2 in 5 (37%) at national level.

There is still an unmet need for contraceptives among currently married girls in Homa Bay. About 1 in 10 (11%) currently married girls aged 15-19 would like to avoid pregnancy but they are not using a modern contraceptive method compared to 23% at national level.

This means that between 20 and 30% of never married young people in the region did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter. This is a particular concern given the high HIV prevalence in the region.

There is thus need to invest in contraceptives and family planning for young people to reduce teenage pregnancy, ensuing unsafe abortions and maternal mortality and tackle issues of poverty.

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The author is a Youth Advocate based in Homa Bay County.

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Young and Diabetic; One Girl’s Story

Category : Naya Blog

By Kelvin Mokaya, @EduardoKelvinho

Image Courtesy: www.fotolia.com

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally and diabetes mellitus is the 4th main contributor. It is characterized by chronic hyperglycaemia with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism resulting from defects in insulin secretion, action or both. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya is at 3.3% and predicts a rise to 4.5% by 2025.
Susan’s Story…….

“It was in late 2002 when I started falling ill. I thought I had malaria and I went to the pharmacy and bought antimalarial drugs. I took the drugs but I didn’t improve, so I decided to go to the hospital. I was told that I had amoeba and typhoid and I was given medicines but even after taking those medicines my health kept on deteriorating. I had the diabetes symptoms but I didn’t know that I could be developing diabetes.

In February 2003, my friend who is a dentist asked me to go to her place so that she could take me to a specialist. She took me to a diabetes and kidney specialist who diagnosed me immediately with diabetes after I told him how I was feeling. He just pricked my finger and tested my blood sugar and confirmed that indeed I had type 1 diabetes at that time I was 20yrs old when I was diagnosed.

I was put on Humulin 70/30 thrice a day for the first 2 weeks and then twice per day after that. It was not easy at first to inject myself but at least my doctor friend guided me through the process until I learnt how to do it by myself. It was not easy at first to accept that I was going to live with the condition for the rest of my life, but with time I accepted it and since then I can’t complain much. I thank God that when I got pregnant in July 2012, I didn’t have any complications through the pregnancy. Now my daughter is 2yrs and 4months old.

However, treatment is expensive and I have to pay out of my pocket. The annual tests are very expensive. I haven’t gone for those tests for 3 years now. Insulin is still expensive in Kenya. You can find it in government hospitals or in pharmacies. In government hospitals it’s a bit cheaper compared to pharmacies. There are people who can’t afford insulin. I wish our Kenyan government could provide it for free. ”

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Like Susan says, the high cost and low availability of insulin in Kenya with inadequate patient follow up contributes to poor management. Although the Kenyan government subsidizes insulin to reduce the price for patients, supplies frequently run out and there is miscommunication between local depositories and central medical stores to restock.

Diabetes requires long-term follow up, with uninterrupted access to medication and specialist care. Many health workers lack adequate knowledge and training thus exposing diabetics to suboptimal management. Many health facilities do not routinely screen for hyperglycaemia.

The current disease burden indicates a need for more resources for prevention and health promotion, with primary healthcare taking greater responsibility for chronic diseases. Effective primary care should lower hospital admissions and reduce overall cost. The WHO recommends changes in financing and delivery of services for chronic conditions within Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries. Funding needs to be reassessed and allocated appropriately, with a greater proportion to NCDs especially diabetes. A lower financial burden on individuals by increasing public funding should:

  • Reduce poverty,
  • Increase treatment compliance,
  • Improve diabetic control and
  • Reduce complications, thus
  • Reducing further burden on healthcare services.

The burden of diabetes has been recognized. Kenya is addressing the need for improvements through the launch of The National Diabetes Strategy. This aims to prevent or delay the development of diabetes, improve the quality of life by reducing complications and premature mortality. Key interventions prioritize prevention, early detection and control. Hospital diabetic clinics have been established in some of the counties but access remains a challenge due to long distances of travel. Success of such strategies is dependent on their sustainability and local ownership. To date there has been little evaluation of the strategy so policy makers cannot make informed suggestions for improvements.

For Susan and other young people to have access to the highest attainable standard of health, there is need to increase access to diagnostic, therapeutic and palliative care. All this begins with increased budgetary allocation to Non-Communicable Diseases.

 

The author is a Youth Advocate with NAYA.

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