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Lifestyle Diseases Hit Central Hard

SOURCE: DAILY NATION
John Njagi
22 February 2011
Nairobi — Lifestyle diseases have surpassed Aids as the major killer in Central Kenya.

The government is, as a result, shifting resources towards fighting diabetes, cancer and heart diseases that account for 4.6 per cent of ailments in the region compared to 2.5 per cent for Aids.

Health officials in the region said the figures are the highest in the country and are now appealing to donors to pledge more funds towards fighting the emerging diseases.

The so-called lifestyle diseases are attributed to consumption of refined foods and lack of exercise, habits associated with the rich who often drive rather than walk.

The Central provincial director of public health and sanitation, Dr George Ngatiri, attributed this to high per capita income and literacy levels among residents.

“We are experiencing an epidemiological shift from communicable to non-communicable diseases, meaning we have to shift government and donor efforts towards fighting the non-traditional diseases,” said Dr Ngatiri.

Already, USAid a major source of donor funding for health projects in the region, has shifted its focus from funding HIV and Aids projects to a more holistic approach that involves other diseases.

The organisation recently launched Aphia Plus, an NGO that coordinates health projects in the area.

USAid Kenya deputy director Karen Klimowski said the organisation would inject Sh7.2 billion into the venture, adding that focus would shift towards training to encourage people to adopt healthy living habits.In funding this project, we are alive to the emerging challenges and the need to emphasise on training as a way of empowering the people to take charge of their own health,” she said during the launch of Aphia Plus in Nyeri recently.

Ms Klimowski said the massive funding to developing countries was part of the global health initiative set up by President Barack Obama when he came to power in 2008.

She said USAid had taken into account expected changes under the new constitutional dispensation in designing its intervention and would continue to do so to accommodate any changes.

On a brighter note, however, the region registered the lowest cases of disease outbreaks such as cholera.

Diseases such as cholera are associated with poor hygiene and are prevalent in low-income areas like slums and where there is no piped water.

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