choices leave urban poor
at mercy of lifestyle diseases
is low level of awareness about lifestyle
diseases and their risk factors in poorer
REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENT Bedah
(Xinhua) -- Many poor people are
suffering from cardiovascular diseases in Kenya due
to fewer healthy choices, experts have noted.
Catherine Kyobutungi and Dr Sam Oti of African
Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) said
that the diseases namely diabetes and hypertension
are afflicting a larger population of the poor in
the East African nation since they have limited
access to healthcare and they cannot afford healthy
of the time, junky foods are generally cheaper and
more appealing than healthy food. Poor people thus
tend to turn to unhealthy food, which they find
attractive and to save costs,” said the health
experts on Monday in an interview in Nairobi.
Nairobi’s slum districts, where majority of the
urban poor Kenyans live, research has indicated that
most families eat street food mainly fries to save
recent research by APHRC and Concern Worldwide in
Viwandani and Korogocho slums in the capital noted
that food insecurity mainly occasioned by high
prices drive urban poor families to unhealthy foods.
study indicated while most of the families eat the
cheap street food at least once each day, the foods
are unhygienic and pose great health risks to
small plate of fries costs 0.11 U.S. dollars in the
slums. Many families find this cheaper than cooking
own food since one would incur more expenses that
include energy costs.
in terms of access to healthcare, poor people tend
not to seek medical care early enough possibly due
to ignorance as well as affordability issues. So,
they usually get to the hospital when they are
very sick and have serious complications by which
time it might be too late or too expensive for
them to be treated, “ said Kyobutungi and Oti.
researchers further observed that there is low level
of awareness about lifestyle diseases and their risk
factors in poorer communities.
lifestyle diseases have been believed to be
diseases of affluent societies. Therefore, the
poor had ignored them until recently, but
awareness levels are still very low, with many
people having the diseases failing to know until
it is too late,” said the researchers.
dispelled the misconception among many Kenyans that
healthy options are more expensive.
is not true. For instance, a person who stops
smoking and reduces the quantity of alcohol he or
she drinks is actually saving money. It might be
expensive to join a gym but you can do simple
exercises at home or even take a brisk walk in the
neighborhood to stay physically fit,” said the
added most healthy local food stuffs that can help
keep diabetes and hypertension at bay are
don’t have to eat expensive fruits such as
apples just to be healthy. Even the way you
prepare your food can make a big difference. For
example, instead of deep frying food you could
boil it or grill it. And don’t add excess salt
to your food as it could put you at risk of
hypertension,” they observed.
to the researchers, “lifestyles diseases” are
becoming a major problem in Kenya and Africa at
large because of rapid urbanization and poverty.
is urbanizing quite rapidly. This means that more
and more people are adopting’western
lifestyles’, including consuming unhealthy diets
such as sodas and not exercising often. If nothing
is done to stop this trend, Kenya will be faced
with a heavy burden of disease, that is, a
situation where deaths from communicable diseases
such as HIV as well as non-communicable diseases
such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease will
double,” said Kyobutungi and Oti.
by APHRC and its partners in Korogocho and Viwandani
indicate that 17 percent of adults are either
hypertensive or diabetic. However, majority of them
do not know that they are having the diseases.
to World Health Organization, 9.4 million deaths
occur globally as a result of cardiovascular
diseases every year.
the deaths, 80 percent occur in low and
middle-income countries such as Kenya. In Africa,
the diseases account for 12.5 percent of all adult
needs to pay serious attention to lifestyle
diseases. The government must invest in prevention
strategies and strengthening the primary health
care system to address lifestyle diseases and
their risk factors to avoid a looming epidemic,”
said the researchers.
you read it first at coastweek.com