Affordable diabetes care plan launched

Kenya’s Ministry of Health has agreed with pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk and other key partners to establish an implementation plan for  the Affordability Initiative for diabetes care in Kenya.

The plan could see Kenyans living with diabetes paying less for the treatment.

Dr. Ephantus Maree, who  is  the Head at the Ministry of Health’s Division of NCD Prevention, said the national government is working on improved data collection together with the counties.

The objective, said Dr Maree, is to enable better management of diabetes in the country’s private and public health facilities.

“The government is working on strengthening data collection and management in the counties through the Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) to improve on diabetes care and intervention,” the medic who heads the government’s fight against lifestyle diseases said.

Dr. Eva Njenga, a leading physician and endocrinologist representing the Non- Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya (NCDAK) noted that 4 out of every 10 deaths in Kenya are associated with NCDs.

“In Kenya 40 percent of mortalities can be attributed to NCDs. Most of these deaths are preventable. We must make sure that diabetes care is established in all our healthcare systems including the universal health coverage (UHC) programme,” she added.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Nairobi on April 27, 2021, Emil Larsen, who heads Novo Nordisk’s Middle East and Africa Business Area, said the main objective of the initiative is to accelerate access to affordable treatment for patients living with diabetes in Africa.

“Novo Nordisk has had a long term presence in Kenya, which has led to the implementation of several initiatives and partnerships that all have a unified purpose; to defeat diabetes, which ultimately is the company’s ambition,” said Mr Larsen.

“Working with other partners including the Ministry of Health, Novo Nordisk will continue to support improved access to insulin and diabetes education for patients living with diabetes, through innovative projects and partnerships with various stakeholders to drive change to defeat diabetes,” he added.

Among other key goals, the Affordability Initiative seeks to ensure that patients are supplied with affordable insulin.

It also aims to reach more people with quality care and treatments, and empower people with diabetes to better manage their condition.

At the same time , the initiative plans to build the capacity of health care workers to address the challenge of diabetes management.

He announced the move as the world marks 100 years of insulin use in managing diabetes.

The framework has also brought on board 13 county governments and a consortium of other organizations including supply chain organizations, faith based and county government health facilities, as well as several other allied bodies.

Other key partners in this initiative include the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Health Association of Kenya, Kenya Diabetes Study Group, Kenya Defeat Diabetes Association, Mission for Essential Drugs & Supplies, Medtronic Labs, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya, Philips Therapeutics Ltd. and the Royal Danish Embassy.

The initiative seeks to improve diabetes care in the country in a sustainable manner in the four key areas of capacity, affordability, reach and empowerment. In doing so, the partners hope they will ensure that more patients will be treated to defeat diabetes in Middle Africa.

The Affordability is a key part of iCARE, a collaborative agreement to improve access to diabetes care in Kenya. It has outlined new long-term ambitions to make affordable diabetes care accessible to vulnerable patients in several counties.

The initiative also seeks to find ways to bring diabetes treatment and insulin to patients by leveraging already existing supply chains, health care facilities and the public sector.

Kenya is one of the pilot countries for the iCARE and Affordability Initiative. An estimated 552,400 adults aged between 20 and 79 years are living with diabetes in the East African nation.

The Affordability initiative presents a unique opportunity for the country to leverage much needed partnerships with the private sector.

Mr. Henrik Larsen, who is the Deputy Head of Mission at the Royal Danish Embassy, of Kenya, termed the Affordability initiative and the iCARE initiative as an important effort to combat diabetes in the country.

“The discovery of insulin in 1921 was a monumental and historical event that has today led to patients living with diabetes being able to live and thrive. overall as coming at the same time as the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin,” said Mr Larsen. “The Affordability initiative is another vital move to further cement the gains of the diabetes management system in the country,” he added.

Also speaking at the forum, Kisumu County Governor Professor Anyang Nyong’o noted that awareness of the condition is still very low especially in rural areas. The ignorance, he said, means that most patients don’t know what kind of interventions they need to properly manage their conditions.  

“We need to strengthen our awareness programmes to cover the rural areas adequately and empower patients and their caregivers and families,” added the governor, who heads the health arm in the Council of Governors.

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