Warning over rise of diabetes as women bear brunt of disease

Late diagnosis of diabetes is putting lives of diabetic patients at risk of going blind, heart and kidney failure or even death, health experts warn.

However, six in ten people who are diabetic do not know they have the disease. Already, nearly one million Kenyans are diabetic.

But even those who have been diagnosed, access to insulin injections is expensive – at least Sh12, 000 is required a month to manage the disease – and this becomes difficult among patients from poor backgrounds.

Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get from the blood into body cells where it is converted into energy.

In a move to address this, three diabetes centres have been set up at the Coast General Hospital and Kakamega County Hospital, and today the Ministry of Health and the Danish global healthcare company, Novo Nordisk, will set up another one at the Nakuru Provincial Hospital.

These specialised centres will avail diabetes information and care with the setup of a centre equipped to tackle the disease.

Dr Jean-Paul Digy from Novo Nordisk told members of the press yesterday in Nairobi:

“We need to work in partnership to ensure diabetic patients get access to insulin which in partnership, have seen that it has been reduced by 75 per cent, already 27 counties stock insulin and we hope to expand to more regions.”

He spoke yesterday during the Pan African World Diabetes Day Forum where a report, Health Transitions in Africa, by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was also launched.


It shows there is a rise of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the continent.

Currently, nearly 20million people in Africa were diagnosed with diabetes in 2015 and this may double by 2040.

The 38-page report shows diabetes has increased in Africa between 1990 and 2015 due to rapid development and urbanisation, seen as a boon among economists, but now has health experts worried for the future.

The young and middle-class Kenyans are more susceptible to diabetes due to poor lifestyle habits such as eating of junk food, having fewer vegetables and/or fruits on their plate, and sedentary lifestyles.

Mauritius leads the pack of countries with a high diabetes prevalence rate of 17per cent, which is two to five times greater than rates in the other African countries according to a report to be released today by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Clinical Assistant Professor Tom Achoki, presented the findings of the report, he said:

“In countries where diabetes or cardiovascular disease was worse than expected based on current levels of development, women frequently bore the greater share of this burden.”

Diabetes is seen as one cause of disability, amputations and resources in African countries will be diverted for treatment for diabetic patients. According to the international Diabetes Federation, a diabetic patient requires three times more health resources than a non-diabetic.

At the meet-up, various panel discussions tackled innovative ways to address the disease that affects nearly one million Kenyans with adverse complications such as kidney failure.

The report also discusses how development is also contributing to cardiovascular diseases that affect younger people and women in sub-Saharan Africa at disproportionate rates relative to other world regions.

On this front, Lesotho recorded the third fastest rate between 1990 and 2015. But countries such as Burundi were seen to be managing the cardiovascular disease burden in the world, at 3.6 per cent, in the same time frame.

The two non-communicable diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, lead to premature mortality and needed to be reduced by one-third according to the Sustainable Development Goals.


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