The Ministry of Health has urged Kenyans diagnosed with hypertension to enroll as members of national insurer, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), citing there is a growing concern over rising prevalence.
Marking the World Hypertension Day today at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, the Ministry’s officials said the country is currently struggling with a double burden of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases, hypertension being one of them.
In his speech, the Director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko said it is important to be checked for screening in order to deal with a specific number of affected people in a bid to eradicate the disease.
“Getting this warning signal early is by far the better option. The actions that can be taken when detected early on are way cheaper and less risky for patients, than interventions like dialysis or surgery that may be needed when hypertension is diagnosed late or goes untreated,” stated Kioko.
Speaking during the event dubbed “Know your numbers”, Senior Deputy Director of Medical Services Pacifica Onyancha said that hypertension drugs in government facilities were highly subsidized to make them available to common mwananchi and called for more screening.
“Apart from subsidizing the drugs, the NHIF now takes care of patients as long as they are members and therefore people should be encouraged to get their drugs in an efficient and cheaper way,” said Onyancha.
Hypertension is a growing concern worldwide and is one of the most important contributors to premature death from cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of hypertension has been on the rise, with the World Health Organization estimating that every three in ten persons are living with high blood pressure.
Locally, the National STEPwise Survey for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) 2015 reported that almost 1 in 4 Kenyans is living with hypertension. The same survey alarmingly noted that more than half of Kenyans have never had their blood pressure measured and over 90 per cent of those undergoing treatment for hypertension have not attained control of the disease.
NHIF, in the recently reviewed benefits, introduced a new package that covers patients with chronic diseases where diabetes, hypertension and cancer will be catered for.
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