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A collaboration between AstraZeneca (www.AstraZeneca.com) and Plan International Kenya to address non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention among young people; The Programme will operate in Nairobi inclusive of 5 villages in Kibera and 13 villages in Mathare; The Programme builds on five years of successful implementation and results in Kibera, Nairobi between 2016 and 2020.

Today, Plan International Kenya and AstraZeneca are pleased to announce the five-year renewal of the Young Health Programme Kenya, a global community investment initiative from AstraZeneca, focusing on young people and prevention of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.

In Kenya, young people between 10 and 24 account for over 33% of the total population [1], providing the country with a considerable socio-economic development opportunity. The period of adolescence is pivotal in reducing NCDs and maximizing health across all stages of life.

“We are very excited to build on five years of successful implementation in Kenya and expand our reach to 18 new areas, the remaining villages in Kibera and into the new area of Mathare,” says Kate Maina-Vorley, Country Director, Plan International Kenya. “Having successfully worked closely with the Nairobi County and National Government to support policies and guidelines on NCD prevention, and reached over 82,000 young people and 267,000 members of the wider community over the past five years, we are looking forward to continuing this vital work focusing on NCD prevention. Our recent external evaluation illustrated incredible results, including for instance that the number of young people using tobacco declined more than 40%, from 47.2% at baseline to 5.9% at the final evaluation. Combining our programme to empower young people to make healthier life choices, with the present significant political will to address the challenge, we hope to continue to have a huge impact on long-term health outcomes.”

The Young Health Programme addresses the primary NCD risk factors of tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and air pollution, as well as supporting the broader health and well-being of young people.

According to the World Health Organisation country profile of 2018, NCDs in Kenya are estimated to account for 27% of total deaths and 13% of premature deaths, with cardiovascular diseases and cancers being the leading cause of death, accounting for 8% and 10% respectively [2]. The Kenya 2015 STEPS survey revealed that 94% of Kenyans aged 18-69 are consuming less than the WHO-recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day [3], an alarming statistic that may compromise their current and future health.

Nancy, a 23 year old peer educator from Kibera said, “The programme built my capacity in different ways. At an individual level, I have become knowledgeable about the risk that can lead to NCDs and have learnt so much about NCDs compared to before joining the programme. At the community level, I have raised awareness about NCD prevention among young people. Most of them have taken it positively and as a result, have reduced the practices, especially those who were harmfully using alcohol.”

The Young Health Programme Kenya is a five-year programme that aims to contribute to the improved health and wellbeing of young people between 10-24 years of age in five villages in Kibera that were not reached through the 2016-2020 programme, and all thirteen villages in Mathare. Specifically, it aims to ensure that young people in Nairobi have increased knowledge about risk factors and NCD prevention, which gives them greater capacity to make informed decisions about their health, in the context of improved health services, an enabling support system and policy environment.

The Young Health Programme Kenya hopes to directly reach more than 88,000 young people with health information and NCD prevention programming. Indirectly, it is expected to reach an additional 400,000 young people and 196,000 members of the wider community through campaigns, events and awareness raising activities.

Globally, the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme has reached more than 5 million young people in 30 countries since it was launched in 2010.

“Since the Young Health Programme launched in Kenya in 2016, I have seen the peer educators in action, and have been inspired by their desire to become champions for other youth in their communities to live healthier lives. The impact this can have shines through in the achievements of the programme to date and we are delighted to continue our commitment to adolescent health in Kenya,” said Dr Kennedy Njau, Government Affairs Director, Sub Saharan Africa, AstraZeneca.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr Mercy Mwangangi, has urged Kenyans to go for early cancer screening and treatments as a step towards winning the war against the disease in order to bridge the gap between screening and medication, adding that 70 per cent of cancer cases in Kenya are diagnosed late when nothing much can be done.

Accompanied by Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the CAS Speaking during the Third Commemoration of the Opening of the Nakuru Oncology Unit, at the level Five Teaching and Referral Hospital, the CAS noted that the Ministry was strengthening the capacity of health care workers to screen and detect precancerous cells. Further, the government had developed National Cancer Guidelines aimed at improving accuracy of screening and diagnosis of the disease at both County and National levels.

The CAS stated that an average of 48,000 cases of cancer were being recorded in the country annually leading to 34,000 deaths. Dr. Mwangangi noted data from the devolved unit’s health department indicated that fewer men compared to women are checked for cancer. She asserted that most cancers were treatable if diagnosed early. He called on Kenyans to change their perception of the disease as a death sentence.

Governor Kinyanjui said his Administration had recognized the burden cancer has on families and communities and set up an ultra-modern oncology centre at the Nakuru County Referral Hospital. The Governor noted statistics from the health department indicated that the leading cancer reported in men within the devolved unit was prostrate while incidents of breast and cervical cancer were high among women of reproductive age.

The statistics from the Ministry of Health also rank cancer as the third leading high mortality disease in Kenya, with cervical cancer being the top cause of death among women followed by breast, uterine and oesophagus cancers. The statistics indicate that about 6,000 new cases of breast cancer are reported every year in the country.

Official records, Mr Kinyanjui observed, revealed that though numbers of those checked was going up, most men shied away from screening centers. He urged Kenyans to enroll with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cater for treatment.”

The Governor added that the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) offers an oncology package that covers radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions. With an NHIF card, a patient can get up to 20 radiotherapy sessions as well as six chemotherapy sessions that can cost up to Sh25,000 each.

He affirmed that Universal Health Coverage can only be achieved if the country focused on prevention of killer non-communicable diseases with no signs in the early stages such as cancer. Kinyanjui observed that though cancer has previously been wrongly assumed to be a disease majorly reported among the affluent in the society, it was now very common among middle and low-income earners in the country.

He also encouraged parents to take their 10-year-old girls for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Gov. Kinyanjui disclosed that the cervical cancer screening services remain available in all public health facilities within the devolved unit, and appealed to all eligible women to visit their nearest health facilities for screening at least once a year.

Since the Oncology centre was established at the Nakuru Level Six Hospital four years ago, more than 25,000 cases have been reviewed out of which over 3,000 have undergone chemotherapy.

Prior to the establishment of the department, patients in need of cancer treatment were referred to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

More Kenyan women die of cancer than men, according to the World Health Organization’s research agency.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Globocan data shows that the disease claims 18,772 women compared to 14,215 men yearly. Women also lead in new cancer cases with 28,688 getting the disease compared to 19,199 men, representing 56 per cent of the total new cases.

In the next five years, the Globocan data shows, Kenyan women will continue bearing the brunt as cancer rates are set to rise twice faster than in men.

Nakuru County Health Executive Committee (CEC) Member, Dr Kariuki Gichuki, said there was a glimmer of hope for patients requiring Radiotherapy sessions who have to travel to Nairobi, as Nakuru County has started construction of a Sh500 Million Radiotherapy Centre.

Cancer accounts for seven per cent of annual deaths in Kenya and is now a common illness. Cervical cancer, second most common, can be prevented through vaccination.

Courtesy: Kenyan News

The Ministry of Health begins the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine on 28th of May 2021. The administration of the second dose comes 12 weeks after the roll – out of the first dose as per WHO guidelines to boost effectiveness. The second jab will be administered with priority given to frontline health care workers, who received the first jab during the initial roll out in March 2021. Addressing the 16th Health Sector Intergovernmental Consultative Virtual Forum, Ag. Director of public health Dr. Francis Kuria, pointed out Kenya has confirmed the circulation of the UK, South African and Indian variant strains with Nairobi leading in the number of infections as well as reporting the highest number of vaccinations.

Marsabit County registered the lowest number of vaccinations at 785 cases as at the 16th of May 2021. The chair of the Covid 19 vaccine taskforce Dr. Willis Akwhale giving an update on the Covid 19 vaccine deployment strategy at the consultative forum said 136,370 vaccine doses are available at 12 confirmed vaccination sites. The distribution of the vaccine doses stands at 21,000 at the national level, 21,550 at the regional level and 93,820 at the sub-county level. He urged health care workers who received the first jab to get the second jab beginning 28th May for 90% protection against severe covid 19 complications. The Ministry of Health has also begun sending text message reminders to persons due to receive the second dosage to visit their current vaccine sites for the second jab emphasizing it is administered free of charge.

As at 26th May, 960,379 persons had been vaccinated against covid 19 with a majority being males at 56% and females at 44%. Majority of those vaccinated are aged 58 years and above. In addition, the government has set aside funds to acquire 30 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from South Africa. Already, processing and delivery of 10 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is underway. The 10 million doses are expected in the country from August this year. However, Dr. Akwhale says talks are underway to have part of the consignment of the 10 million vaccines delivered beginning next month.

The health sector intergovernmental consultative forum brings together County Executive Committee members of health and key national government officials in the Ministry of Health and government agencies to promote intergovernmental relations in the health sector. The meeting mainly focused on progress in Covid 19 preparedness and response, vaccine deployment strategies and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) implementation and scale up.

The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is an initiative of the national government in collaboration with County governments.

President Uhuru Kenyatta rolled out the pilot phase of the programme on December 13th, 2018 as one of the Big Four Agenda. Its main focus being, to strengthen the primary health care system and ensure the availability of basic medical equipment and commodities.

The Introduction of the Free Maternity Programme dubbed Linda Mama has seen a significant increase in the number of expectant mothers seeking maternal and neonatal health services. This has contributed to a notable improvement in maternal and neonatal indicators thus a reduction in maternal and infant deaths.

Outgoing CS for Health Sicily Kariuki signed an Intergovernmental participation in January 2020 agreement (IPA) with four more Governors to commission the scale up of UHC in their respective counties.

During the signing of the agreement the CS announced that in order to progressively implement UHC, the National Government will this financial year 2019/20 invest KES 41.9 billion in key strategic areas informed by lessons learnt from the pilot and existing health system gaps in Human Resource for health, Commodities, Primary Health Care services, Community Health services and service delivery to supplement County investments.

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