Afyacode's Logo

Diabetes Statistics in Kenya

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya is at 3.3% and by 2025 we will be looking at a 4.5% rise.

Due to unawareness among Kenyans, two-thirds of diabetic patients are undiagnosed and this is quite a big challenge to the Health sector. With so many undiagnosed diabetics the country’s progress towards fighting and possibly eradicating diabetes becomes a more difficult task.

Kenya was ranked by the International Diabetes Federation as the 31st African country in terms of diabetes with a prevalence of about 460 diabetic cases per 10,000 population. This case study indicates the prevalence and associated deaths of diabetes in rural and semi-urban counties in the country.

According to a very descriptive cross-sectional review of diabetes cases in various hospitals, there were 1548 cases with 59% being female, mean age of 58 years.

Causes of increase in diabetes cases in Kenya

Diabetes cases in Kenya are rising at an alarming rate primarily due to change in lifestyle leading to increased consumption of unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and subsequently obesity.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of renal failure, lower limb amputation, and blindness. These complications if undetected and untreated are often serious and cause huge human suffering and disability.

In addition, they result in significant socioeconomic costs resulting from premature morbidity and mortality (Death). Diabetes also triggers cardiovascular disease which is the leading cause of death in diabetic patients.

Diabetes statistics within counties

In counties such as Isiolo, Othaya, Mukurweini, Thika and Meru the diabetic ratio is 310, 30, 20 and 4 per 10,000.  The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes in counties such as Isiolo, Meru, and Thika with 98%, 96%, and 94% respectively.

There is a deep correlation between gender, age, and the presence of co-morbidity and diabetes across different counties. According to researches diabetes is prevalent in both rural and semi-rural counties and women are more affected by this disease.

Management of Diabetes in Kenya

According to the Kenya Vision 2030, the Kenyan government is keen on improving the health sector through the provision of equitable, affordable, and quality health care to all its citizens. In Kenya, diabetes is managed on three primary units of care, at the district level through district hospitals, county hospitals, and referral hospitals.

As in all treatment of diabetes, the goal is to maintain healthy blood glucose levels through managing the levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure to prevent the progression of other diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.

Treatment in a majority of Kenyan hospitals includes the administration of insulin, dietary recommendations, and physical exercise. As diabetes is a chronic disease whose management relies on patient self-care, there has been an emphasis on patient education in recent years.

This education often touches on, how to monitor blood glucose levels, how to properly self-administer insulin shots (and injection sites), dietary information, lifestyle improvement, physical exercise, and home management of the disease. Most of this education is carried out at the point of care with the individuals’ healthcare provider.

Despite evidence that the majority of diabetes cases can be prevented and reversed through the adoption of lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and dietary modification, the primary focus of management of type 2 diabetes in Kenya is on medication.

The result is large increases in expenditure on drugs for diabetes and at the individual level, catastrophic out of the pocket expenditure.  Further, while these drugs may lead to some improvement in blood glucose control, these improvements are not always sustained, and further medication is often required.

Challenges in the management of diabetes in Kenya

While access to quality healthcare remains a challenge to most individuals, some challenges facing diabetes management include:

  • Access to consumables for diabetes care, such as syringes, lancets, glucometers, etc. is often an added expense that most patients are unable to meet.
  • Education: most county programs that train and educate on diabetes are often underfunded, understaffed, and with limited resources. As a result of this, the level of the information made to individual patients suffers in quality.
  •  Insulin supply: where county hospitals provide insulin at subsidized prices, the supply of the drug is often out of stock, causing patients to source the drug from private institutions, often at an added cost.
  • Delayed screening: While an estimated 44% of diabetes cases remain undiagnosed, the most common types of diabetes in Kenya include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.