How the rise in diabetes may impact Kenya’s diabetic care

World Today

Cases of adult-onset diabetes are on the rise globally, especially in Africa and Asia. There are fears that insulin will be harder to come by due to both shortages and cost. CGTN’s Asta Tall has a look at diabetic care in Kenya – and how it could be affected by the trend.

Cynthia Akinyi has come for a consultation to Kenya ‘s Diabetes Management and Information Centre.

For the past five years, the center has supplied her with insulin at no cost, and helped her manage her condition.

Akinyi is part of a growing number of Type 2 diabetics living in Africa, and many of those patients need insulin. That’s where fears of a shortage come in.

A recent study by the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Journal predicts the amount of insulin needed to treat Type 2 cases will rise by more than 20 percent over the next 12 years. But researchers said only about half the patients who need it at that time, will be able to get it.

According to endocrinologist Dr. Eva Njenga, Africa and Asia are set to be hardest hit. “It’s predicted that that increase, most of it will be in the Africa and Asian countries. And Africa we are doing badly because our increase will be almost 50 percent.”

Three companies dominate worldwide production of insulin: Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly.

Doctor Njenga said she’s discussed the issue with representatives of Novo Nordisk, who told her they’re prepared to meet future needs.

“That is the notion that we are going to have a crisis of insulin,” she explained. “but they say if countries were able to judge or to actually establish the actual need or the situation or do a special analysis on the ground, find out how much insulin the country needs, they will get the supplies.”

But supply is only part of the problem. Cost is another. Doctor Njenga’s center helps patients pay for their treatment. She also understands how poor planning by health authorities can eventually hurt patients like Cynthia.

In partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Njenga is helping to compile a registry of all the country’s diabetics. She wants to make the data available to plan ahead and avert a crisis.