Tobacco takes toll in Kenya

| August 18, 2017

Tobacco use is now the top cause of preventable death in Kenya and one of the four biggest factors contributing to the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), according to a Bernama News Agency report quoting the Principal Secretary (Assistant Minister) for Health, Julius Korir.

More than half of hospital admissions in Kenya are said to be related to NCDs and, on average, 80 per cent of premature deaths are related to the use of or exposure to tobacco.

Such a toll was said to be putting a strain on Kenya’s efforts to achieve its development goals, said Korir in a speech read out by the senior deputy director of Medical Services, Dr. Patrick Amoth.

“These diseases are not only burdening the health system but also resulting in high productivity costs to the economy,” said Korir, who added that the tobacco epidemic could not be ignored any longer.

The story cited the 2015 STEPwise Survey for NCD risk factors as having revealed that 13 percent of Kenya’s adults used tobacco products and that 20 percent of Kenyans were exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke at home.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey of 2013 was cited also and was said to have shown that 10 percent of Kenyans aged 13-15 years were regular consumers of tobacco products.

Meanwhile, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2014 was said to have revealed that half of the country’s current smokers had attempted to quit smoking in the previous 12 months. “This demonstrates a need to avail cessation services to Kenyans,” said Korir. “Tobacco cessation interventions offered by the health care systems are more effective than individual based interventions.”

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