Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of people living with NCDs

Pandemic exposes the vulnerability of people living with NCDs

Majority of the people who have succumbed to Covid-19, had undelying disease conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. These are Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), whose burden to the health system is on the rise.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the people living with NCDs.

People living with diabetes and hypertension are advised to consume healthy diets based on the locally available foods. 

A balanced diet is critical for preventing and managing NCDs, and their related complications during this Covid-19 season and beyond.

Those who adhere to a healthy diet are able to maintain the acceptable blood sugar levels, manage their blood pressure levels and maintain the ideal body weight.

The guidelines for healthy diet:

  • Eat the right portion of whole grains and cereals like maize, rice, millets, sorghum, wheat; root tuners like arrowroots, cassava, sweet potato and green bananas.
  • Consume plenty of vegetables such as green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, sukuma wiki, traditional vegetables like managu, terere, kunde, mrenda, saga, pumpkin leaves and starchy vegetables such as butternut, pumpkin and other vegetables like cabbage, sweet peppers, green peas...
  • Eat a variety of fruits that are in season and readily available in the market such as oranges, mangoes, ripe bananas, apples, water melon.
  • Eat plenty protein foods such as beans, green grams, lentils, njahi, pigeon peas, groundnuts and seeds alternating with animal protein foods such as fish, lean meats, poultry and eggs.
  • Take fat free or low fat dairy and dairy products, such as skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt and fortified soya beverages.
  • Restricted amounts of sugar, salt, alcohol, trans fats such as hardened fats and margarines and saturated fats from animal sources and fatty meats.
  • Avoid sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, sweetened teas and flavoured drinks.

Hypertension is the commonest cardiovascular condition globally and the same applies in Kenya. It is estimated that 1.13 billion people live with this condition worldwide representing 31% of adult population.

In Kenya about 6.1 million adult live with hypertension representing 24% of the adult population.

The Kenya Health Information System January to March 2020 data from 21 reporting counties on hypertension indicate that a total of 67,465 hypertensive patients were seen and reported.

The Ministry of Health Kenya in collaboration with County Governments has put up measures to ensure that NCD clinics remain operational during this period, Dr Rashid Aman said.

"All the diabetes and hypertension clinics are operational, and I am encouraging persons living with NCDs to visit the clinics for regular checkup, refilling of their medications and nutrition counselling."

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