Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for the loss of 100,000 lives in Kenya each year. This is according to a report launched by the Ministry of Health on a survey done between April and June 2015. Stakeholder collaboration is the fresh united front in Kenya to wage war against these life-terminating monsters.

The 21st and 22nd of March 2018 witnessed a stakeholder collaboration event in Nairobi, Kenya at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was organized by Access Accelerated, an initiative involving more than 23 bio-pharmaceutical companies and associations. The initiative also includes World Bank and the Union of International Cancer Control as partners and it purposes to help address the full spectrum of access barriers to NCD medicines in low-income and lower-middle income countries. Other stakeholders in collaboration with Access Accelerated for this event included NCD Alliance, PATH, World Heart Federation and BIO Ventures for Global health (bvgh).

This event was an extension of a workshop started earlier in the week with an event hosted by the Ministry of Health and World Bank in Naivasha involving key stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector, including participation from Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health Sicily Kariuki. The overall objective of the workshop was to accelerate progress on prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and explore strategies for mainstreaming the NCD agenda into Kenya’s broader plans towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Illnesses categorized as NCDs include heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes, road crash survivors (injury and accidents), hypertension, epilepsy, sickle cell, bone and joint conditions, spinal cord injuries, asthma and mental conditions among others.

It was quite an inclusive event which brought together the global community, the government, non-governmental organizations, health practitioners, caregivers and people living with NCDs(PLWNCDs). The county government was represented by the First Ladies Association. The chairperson of the association, her excellence Nazi Kivutha of Makueni was present accompanied by her Excellencies Elizabeth Maiyani and Stella Samboja of Nakuru and Taita-taveta County respectively. They promised that their association will continue to be the unrelenting advocate of NCD care in the counties. “As county first ladies we were not elected for county leadership but we refuse to sit pretty as our beautiful country struggles with grave issues”.

The unique feature of this event was that PLWNCDs and their caregivers were given adequate time to share their stories of delayed and wrong diagnosis, pain, poor quality treatment, stigma and the financial challenges of managing chronic diseases. In this two days event, PLWNCDs were empowered to write a comprehensive petition to the international and national government for the upscaling of NCD care. Issues included in the petition were proper involvement of PLWNCDs in decision making, good and quality timely care in the local health facilities, education of PLWNCDs and their caregivers, qualified medical staff, subsidized health services, comprehensive insurance cover and government accountability among others.

In the closing plenary James Pfitzer, the director of Access Accelerated said that the two days event was quite humbling and added that, “We will work with our members and partners to bring a united response as we commit to supporting partners to elevate the voices of people living with NCDs.”

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