Prevalence rates for diabetes and hypertension remain high in Nairobi and Western Kenya 

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

  • Kuza Afya programme screens over 100,000 people and enrolled over 5000 patients for  diabetes and hypertension care and support in Bungoma County
  • Tiba Yako, a digital service model for management of diabetes and hypertension enrolled over 1500 patients in  Nairobi’s Mukuru slums 
  • Prevalence rates for Hypertension and diabetes are still very high in Nairobi and Western Kenya
  • Awareness Campaigns and Capacity building for Community healthcare workers key to mitigating the situation on the ground

Hypertension and diabetes cases are still very high in Nairobi and Western Kenya regions, according to new findings. The report indicates that there are an estimated 10,541 new cases of hypertension and 2,349 new cases of diabetes that were diagnosed in 2019 in Bungoma alone. It further identifies key challenges such as lack of awareness on the diseases and access to healthcare services in the grassroots and low income areas.

With the Covid 19 pandemic posing various challenges to the health sector including some patients with life threatening illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension deferring their appointments and treatment, these numbers are likely to rise globally with fatalities in those severely affected.

The findings are part of a report from two key projects commissioned by Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and its partners AMPATH and Pharm Access. The programmes, Kuza- Afya and Tiba Yako were launched last year in Bungoma and Nairobi counties respectively in an effort to bridge the gap in the healthcare sector through awareness campaigns and capacity building for healthcare workers leading to better health outcomes.

Kuza Afya is a diabetes and hypertension care programme designed to work with communities and healthcare workers through comprehensive education, screening and care. It was unveiled in January 2019 and rolled out in Bungoma County, Western Kenya until December 2019. During this period, over 70,000 community members were screened for hypertension and 40,000 for diabetes.

“Hypertension and diabetes prevalence rates are still very high in Nairobi and Western Kenya regions. However, through Kuza Afya and Tiba Yako we were able to identify the key challenges on the ground being lack of awareness on the diseases and access to healthcare services especially in the grassroots and low income areas. The two programmes helped bridge this gap by equipping more clinics with basic diagnostic kits so as to test as many people as possible and link patients with the right management to avoid any complications occasioned by late diagnosis. We will continue to offer technical support to the projects on the ground to ensure that they continue offering these services to the community” said Simon Manyara, Product Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Sub-Sahara Africa.

The programme was implemented in partnership with the AMPATH Consortium comprising of multiple North American academic institutions led by Indiana University, and partners with the Moi University and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Western Kenya, working together to exchange knowledge, share resources, train medical professionals, and reach patients and communities

The programme also trained over 500 community health workers and 57 clinical officers and nurses on identification, prevention and management of the two conditions. An innovative supply chain mechanism using a portable pharmacy was created to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicines for those in need.

Through these efforts, over 5,000 new patients in the region are now accessing care for hypertension and diabetes routinely. To support care for the patients diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes health facilities were equipped with basic diagnostic kits and care protocols and offered mentorship for quality care.

Tiba Yako is a digital service model for diabetes and hypertension care mainly in Nairobi. The programme was rolled out last year by Boehringer Ingelheim in partnership with Pharm Access mainly targeting people living in slum areas and other informal settlements in Nairobi.  Through this programme, patients have access to a mobile health wallet with which they can save for healthcare expenses and acquire discounted prices for treatment of their chronic disease.

Under the Tiba Yako programme, patients were screened and directly supported through awareness programmes, access and adherence to diabetes and hypertension care. Patients also acquired a device to measure their blood pressure and/or glucose levels at home and were trained by agents to enter these figures in a self-management app.

The programme enrolled over 1,435 patients in Nairobi in one year and continue to access care for hypertension and diabetes routinely. During the roll out, 7 clinics were selected to support care for the patients diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes. The health facilities were also equipped with basic diagnostic kits and care protocols and offered mentorship for quality care.

This digital model has been hailed as successful in the management of hypertension and diabetes patients owing to the mobile phones access and network penetration in Kenya. The programme registered patient adherence of 48%, which is higher than the projected 27%.

Tiba Yako is anchored by M-TIBA, a digital payment platform for healthcare which was developed by PharmAccess and partners. M-TIBA provides access to healthcare by connecting people to clinics and healthcare funders, directly through a wallet on their mobile phone, and exchanging money and data between them.

The two programmes are part of Boehringer Ingelheim ‘In Reach Africa’ programme which aims at improving quality and access of human and animal healthcare across the African continent.

The ‘In Reach Africa’ programme has been developed to collaborate with multiple key local stakeholders to empower the health systems and is designed to adapt to the current healthcare realities in Africa.

The programme was launched last year in Kenya and later rolled out in other Sub Sahara Africa countries like Nigeria and Ghana.  Through this programme, Boehringer Ingelheim targets the major NCDs (non-communicable diseases) like Diabetes, Hypertension and Stroke.