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Stakeholders call for prevention of cardiovascular diseases in Kenya

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Various stakeholders have been urged to embrace collaboration and partnerships in tackling the burden of cardiovascular diseases, focusing on awareness, screening initiatives and strengthening of healthcare systems.

This was highlighted during the launch of the World Heart Day campaign on Friday by the Kenya Cardiac Society in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, Novartis and other partners in an effort to raise awareness about Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs), including heart failure.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, every year, 17.9 million people die from CVDs representing 31 percent of deaths worldwide 1. In Kenya, 13 percent of deaths are related to CVDs and account for 25 percent of hospital admissions according to the National Step wise Survey 2015.

Heart failure has been flagged as a disease that health stakeholders need to pay more attention to since it is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. Heart failure can be caused by current or past medical conditions, which either damage or add extra workload to the heart. Common causes include past heart attacks, high blood pressure, lung conditions, diabetes, alcohol & drug abuse, congenital heart defects among other ailments.

“We have joined the world to continue driving awareness of cardiovascular diseases in Kenya which have become a burden on the economy and the society at large. Eight percent of Kenyans in the 40-69 age group are at a high risk of cardiovascular diseases with only 6.2 percent of them currently receiving drug therapy and counselling to prevent heart attacks and stroke ii. There is a need to prioritize prevention and control at both national and county level by the government and the public.” Said Dr Ephantus Maree, Head of NCD prevention& control unit.

“To tackle the growing problem at hand, we need to come together as a society and observe what we are consuming; hence encourage consumption of healthy diets, promote physical activity, avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking cessation. One of the major challenges we face is the low level of awareness of the causes and the impact of cardiovascular diseases among the general population. There is need for sustained awareness creation on CVD prevention, early detection and management across the country’’ said Dr Bernard Gitura, President of the Kenya Cardiac Society.

Arpit Bansal, Country Group Head, English East Africa at Novartis said: “It is our belief that collaboration and partnerships are crucial to tackling the burden of cardiovascular diseases focusing on awareness, screening initiatives and strengthening of healthcare systems. At Novartis, we care about heart health and we support people living with cardiometabolic diseases not only with innovative treatments but also driving patient awareness through patient education materials such as the ‘Heart Failure Symptom Checker’ and ‘Talking to your Doctors Guide’ which are tools developed in collaboration with healthcare partners to improve health outcomes’’

He added that the company has partnered with various health stakeholders in Kenya to increase learning, up skilling on diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

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