Risk factors that have been blamed for diabetes will continue to increase in the next few years unless the Government and private health care providers introduce drastic preventive measures, a meeting of experts heard on Thursday.
Inactive lifestyles and obesity have been blamed for the increase in diabetes cases, said Dr J.B.O. Okanga, a physician and member of the Kenya Diabetes Association.
He was addressing the first annual Kenya Diabetes Summit at Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.
This was the first time that doctors met to discuss how to tackle diabetes on a national scale.
The two-day talks were also used to educate health workers on how to diagnose diabetes so that they contribute to the gathering of information about the disease.
The head of the division of non-communicable diseases at the Ministry of Health, Dr William Maina, said Government funding has in the past decade been focused on tuberculosis, malaria and Aids at the expense of emerging diseases like cancer and diabetes.
“We are now candid enough to say that there is a problem so that we can also begin to look at the disease more seriously,” he said.
According to him, lack of records on the number of diabetes patients was to blame for the low budgetary allocation to fight the disease.
In the past, the cards used in hospitals did not indicate if a patient had diabetes or not. The division now has a new card on which doctors at all public hospitals will record all diabetic cases.
Using the card, health centres can collect information in the next six months.
Dr Maina said that while most of the money to fight diabetes was spent on buying drugs, more needs to be done to enhance prevention since it is cheaper to prevent than to treat any ailment.
Dr Nancy Ngugi, who has been carrying out research on diabetes, said that her initial findings indicated that the disease could be more widespread than is generally estimated.