KENYA— The Kenyan Ministry of Health (MoH) has unveiled the ‘Integrating Diabetes and Hypertension Prevention and Control into Primary Health Care’ project in a strategic move aimed at bolstering healthcare across the country’s 47 counties.

Launched as part of the national observance of World Diabetes Day, the four-year initiative marks a significant step towards improving healthcare accessibility and quality.

The project launch, hosted at Iten County Referral Hospital, aligns with Kenya’s healthcare reforms advocating for quality and affordable care for all citizens.

Under the theme ‘Enhance Access to Diabetes Care,’ the project focuses on prevention, screening, and management, representing a crucial advancement in Kenya’s battle against diabetes.

Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S. Wafula, alongside World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) Senior Director Sanne Frost Helt and WDF’s Regional Advisor Emil Morell, attended the launch.

The celebration emphasized the project’s commitment to prevention, early diagnosis, and providing accurate information and care.

With approximately 4% of Kenyans affected by diabetes and only 40% receiving treatment, CS Nakhumicha stressed the urgent need to address this epidemic.

Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, which includes balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and abstaining from tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, was underscored as a pivotal aspect of disease prevention.

Acknowledging the pivotal role played by the World Diabetes Foundation, CS Nakhumicha expressed gratitude for their substantial four-year grant, driving this groundbreaking project’s integration of diabetes and hypertension into primary care—a transformative effort spanning 35 countries.

Sanne Helt highlighted the significance of bringing noncommunicable diseases (NCD) services to the primary healthcare level.

This is crucial for ensuring individuals living with diabetes can access care as close to their homes as possible, enhancing the overall effectiveness of treatment.

Emil Morell emphasized the critical role of community health workers in transforming healthcare and achieving universal health coverage.

By providing essential services and education to underserved communities, these workers bridge the gap between patients and healthcare services, particularly in rural areas with limited access to care.

The national scale-up, supported by a EUR 7.1 million (US$7.7 million) grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) and WDF, combined with partner contributions, has a total budget of EUR 12 million (US$13 million).

This substantial funding aims to strengthen primary healthcare in Kenya, aligning with the decentralization of health services.

Building on the successes of the initial two phases (2009–2014 and 2016–2020), the current scale-up extends Kenya’s commitment to addressing gaps in NCD management at the primary care and community levels.

Poverty and limited access to basic health services affect at least 30% of the population, with NCDs accounting for nearly 40% of the disease burden.

The third phase, spanning until 2027, aligns with Kenya’s decentralized reform, uniting national and international stakeholders and resources.

By incorporating universal health coverage principles, this project seeks to strengthen national healthcare and align with Kenya’s National NCD Prevention and Control Strategic Plan 2021-2026.

This project represents one of the largest WDF investments in primary care, aiming to catalyze NCD care and integration into universal healthcare coverage.

It stands as the latest in a series of WDF-supported NCD scale-up efforts, playing a pivotal role in diabetes care and prevention in low- and middle-income countries for over two decades.

The ambitious project encompasses three core dimensions: governance and decentralization, advocacy and research, and health system capability.

It will reach all 47 Kenyan counties, fostering access to care through technical working groups focused on diabetes and hypertension.

The comprehensive approach involves training over 2,000 healthcare professionals, building capacity for 350 health centers in 35 counties, and targeting specific health outcomes.

By 2025, the project aims for 5 out of 10 patients to meet blood glucose and blood pressure targets, ensuring affordable NCD medicines are available in 80% of health facilities.

Furthermore, the project will train over 3,500 community health workers, engage 1,800 peer advocates, and establish over 350 patient support groups.

With ambitious screening goals and care for those at risk, the project aims to become a model for similar programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, leveraging the lessons learned from previous WDF-supported initiatives in Kenya since 2004.

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