At least 200,000 Kenyans will from this week be screened for high blood pressure as the government rolls out a month-long campaign aimed at creating awareness about hypertension.
Through Pima Pressure, Kenyans will have an opportunity to get screened at stations set up in referral hospitals, public universities and various pick-up points countrywide.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir said that the ministry will also provide cardiovascular health education at the national and community level.
“We are stepping up the fight against cardiovascular diseases because it is the second-highest killer disease in the country after infectious diseases,” said Mr Korir in Nairobi.
The campaign is part of the May Measurement Month — a global blood pressure (BP) awareness campaign which incorporates the World Hypertension Day, celebrated on May 17.
Almost one in four Kenyans has hypertension; beyond 50 years, it is one in two persons.
And more than half of Kenyans have never had their blood pressure measured, says the National Stepwise Survey of 2015 report.
Of Kenyans who are not aware about their blood pressure status, 70 per cent are men.
In addition, more than 90 per cent of those undergoing treatment for hypertension have not attained control of the disease.
The survey also revealed that more than five million Kenyans consume some form of tobacco.
It also shows that a million Kenyans take alcohol on a daily basis, three million are physically inactive and more than 40 million consume an unhealthy diet.
“We want to encourage all Kenyans to regularly measure their blood pressure because awareness is the first step to better health,” said Mr Korir.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease with an estimated three in 10 people having the condition.
According to Prof Elijah Ogola, the vice-president, Pan-African Society of Cardiology, majority of hypertension patients are not aware they have it, despite the disease being a silent killer.
“There is a misperception that diseases like hypertension only affect the affluent,” said Prof Ogola.
“But, looking at the risk factors, some bordering on behavioural, and some physiological, we cannot seclude it to affluence.
“We are advising people to know their sugar level, blood pressure level and check their weight. That is what May Measurement Month is about.”