By Wangari Ndirangu – Kna Nairobi
Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are responsible for over 30 percent of all deaths and 50 percent bed occupancy in all hospitals in Kenya, according to health experts.
The Clinical Officers Council and the Tobacco Control Council say that every year, 40, 000 new cancer cases are diagnosed with over 27,000 deaths recorded.
This according to the two lobby groups made cancer the third biggest cause of death after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases in Kenya.
Speaking today during the inauguration of the clinical officers council and the tobacco control board at Afya house boardroom, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said optimal health is the cornerstone of economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more.
“It is therefore important that we inaugurate the 4th Tobacco Control Board at a time when the world is focused on controlling Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs)”, she said .
The CS explained that there has been very marginal decline on the use of manufactured cigarettes and cigars, hand-rolled cigarettes, pipes, shisha, snuff, chewed tobacco and kuber from 9 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2019 meaning that about 2.2 million Kenyans use tobacco products, out of which two-thirds smoke cigarettes.
Kariuki noted that tobacco harms the health and economy of our country every year, with more than 8100 people killed by tobacco-caused disease, and the economic cost of smoking in Kenya amounting to Ksh 2.9 billion every year.
“In Line with the Tobacco Control Act , I will expect the following roles from the control board namely timely policies on the production, manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion, sponsorship and use of tobacco and tobacco products;”, she said
The board, she added will also be expected to look into permissible levels of the constituents of tobacco products or their emissions, standardization of ingredients of tobacco products required to be prohibited under section and regular testing for conformity with the requirements standards in labeling, packaging, sale, distribution of tobacco products.
Congratulating also the Clinical Officers Council, CS Kariuki said she expected them to play their prescribed role of Regulating Training, Registration and Licensing of Clinical Officers.
Noting that we have 20,000 clinical officers in the country, the CS emphasized that she will expect nothing but quality in licensing and regulation of their practice including adherence to their scope of service and continuous medical education.
The Lancet 2018 Global report indicates that close to 20,000 deaths in health facilities in the country are linked to low quality of health services including clinical care.
“Clinical Officers and Nurses are the cornerstone of primary health care services delivery in the country and therefore there is no UHC without quality health services” she said adding that she also expects a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in their organizations with results expected in 90 days.
The results should include Strategic plans for the council with key deliverables during their tenure, Human Resource for Health assessment in health facilities in line with the Ministry of Health Standards and norms, joint inspection and licensing of health facilities in the country together with other regulatory bodies under the Ministry of Health.
Others are Health services safety including infrastructural audit in health facilities in line with the infrastructural and occupational health norms of the Ministry and Quarterly reports on staffing including quality of health services in the 4 UHC pilot counties in line with standards and norms for the health facilities
CS Kariuki congratulated the respective Chairpersons and the members of the two corporate bodies on their appointment terming them noble assignments of safeguarding the right to health for all Kenyans while at the same time raising a red flag.
The task ahead for the two boards is enormous as it comes at a time that the country is faced with reports of poor health services, maldistribution of Human Resources for Health and the increased burden of Non Communicable Diseases in the country as Kenya embark on UHC attainment.
By Wangari Ndirangu – Kna Nairobi