Non-communicable Diseases in Kenya


Ncds dev countries

According to the World Health Organization, 85% of deaths from non-communicable diseases (Cancer, Diabetes, Chronic Respiratory and Cardiovascular Disease) between ages 30-70 occur in developing countries. Kenya faces the “dual burden” of battling infectious conditions alongside non-communicable ones. While the largest proportion of deaths are from Communicable Diseases (CDs), Maternal-Child conditions, and Malnutrition (64%), the burden of NCDs (26%) will rise significantly. More funding and resources are needed for cardiovascular disease since it has the highest burden and risk factors can be influenced by policy (e.g. smoking, elevated blood pressure and alcohol misuse).

Kenya health policy

Most funding targets infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. Between 2009 and 2013 HIV/AIDS funding in Kenya  ranged from $690-$790 million, mostly from donors like PEPFAR and the Global Fund. This has been successful, but choosing between funding CDs or NCDs is a false dichotomy—the same population is often affected by multiple conditions. For example, many persons living with HIV often face higher risk of heart disease. A pilot by FHI360 in partnership with the Kenya Cardiac Society and the Kenya Heart Foundation integrated HIV and cardiovascular care with improved outcomes. Now, national AIDS policy supports integration countrywide.

Additional funding for heart disease can be used to establish reliable data collection systems, train the healthcare workforce, expand community education and prevention efforts with a focus on strengthening health systems.  A report from the East Africa NCD Alliance Initiative supports similar actions.  The African Population and Health Research Center has established Kenya Ncd-Info a knowledge-sharing portal with input from government, NGO and academic experts.

Future success depends on commitment from other stakeholders. Pharmaceutical companies have already taken interest, as new markets will open up. The Kenyan Ministries of Medical Services and Public Health and Sanitation need to synergize efforts and strengthen the health system. This will ensure that health gains in some sectors will not be reversed by poor outcomes from NCDs, translating to longer healthier lives for Kenyans.


7 Responses to “Non-communicable Diseases in Kenya”

  1. Yang Song Says:

    From the pie chart above, it seems that 50% of deaths in developing countries is caused by NCDs (diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases). These four major NCDs share four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and harmful use of alcohol. Would it make more sense to target funding/prevention efforts at these four risk factors as they’re often interlinked and there is co-morbidity of the diseases they cause? I agree that there should be more partnership between the CD and NCD public health workers as many people suffer from the double burden that you mentioned above (e.g., TB and lung disease). Therefore, donors funding CD or NCD should allow flexibility for both to work together.

  2. drtosintaiwo Says:

    I agree with the interventions mentioned for management and preventing deaths from non- communicable diseases such as increase funding from NGO, training of healthcare workforce, and commitment from the Kenyan ministries of medical services, but i think strengthening of the preventive measures will go a long way in reducing the number of deaths from non communicable diseases and thus reduce health expenditure in managing non communicable diseases.Funding should target or be directed to preventive interventions such as health education, reduce modifiable risk factors for NCDs and underlying social determinants through creation of health promoting environments.

  3. jpberg77 Says:

    This is certainly an important topic to discuss. NCDs in developing countries are becoming a larger issue; WHO also states that the “rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care” (, which shows the impact this could have in years to come if this is not addressed soon. It is also known that many NCDs are avoidable with appropriate intervention.

    I appreciate the comparison of HIV/AIDS funding in countries such as Kenya, since it is apparent that a large portion of foreign development assistance is channeled towards these interventions. However, I also wanted to bring up recent changes in PEPFAR strategy which are moving towards HIV care and treatment. This article discusses how PEPFAR changes could result in more funding for cancer-related programs, especially since “co-infections and co-morbidities of HIV/AIDS, including AIDS-related cancers” are now seen as more of a priority for PEPFAR ( There is still a long road ahead for Kenya and other developing countries, but this is hopefully a step in the right direction if funding can be used for these NCD prevention activities.

  4. davidugai Says:

    Great blog entry on a very challenging subject. It does appear that countries facing both NCDs and CDs have a major issue of choosing which are to focus funding. This can definitely be seen in the world with the work of NGOs. Usually it is much easier for NGOs to secure funding for programs that target communicable diseases that can show some very quick and satisfying results. When it comes to NCDs, many times the issue relates to healthcare infrastructure and need to develop better health systems in the country. I think it is important in the future to try to identify ways to target both areas of NCDs and CDs for future programming. One are of need may be to develop better health care infrastructure in countries that would be able to better handle both of these types of diseases.

  5. treza1 Says:

    I agree with above comments. This is a challenging issue for developing or underdeveloped countries as now a days beside CD there are almost similar percentage of NCD has been observed. Funding is always has been an issue for these countries since they are not sufficient enough to handle CD and NCD along with co-morbid diseases. Furthermore, this is also true that to secure funding NGOs are also more focused on CD while NCD is going out of hand in the developing countries as well. Before providing funding for a specific site, more research should be done and statistical data should be exhibited. I believe, funding should be allocated for both diseases so that one issue doesn’t go beyond control while taking care of other one.

  6. nacrine Says:

    This is definitely an important topic, in which the author tried to point out the epidemiology transition that is happening in Kenya that needs to be more aware of and advocated. I like the examples provided that emphasize the importance of why the funding should be focused not only on CD but more on NCD in the future, and in the end it also highlighted the promising part of efforts from different sectors. I believe this is a big issue that may require several pages to elaborate, but I think maybe the input from policy change and the significance of policy change from funding mainly in CD to both CD and NCD can be more depicted, like the topic could be more clarified, to let the readers more into the situation.

  7. tshedra1 Says:

    Thanks for the post, and I believe it is necessary to work on non-communicable diseases as much as communicable diseases. I do think that it requires different approaches though. For infectious diseases we need drugs and vaccine for non-communicable disease I think we need education and designing of the environment to have more green places and clean roads for people to be able to walk or ride a bicycle without fear of dust, mud or being hit by a car, he is in addition to having employers offer free gym memberships and opening up more gyms and actually teaching people to eat right.

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