WASHINGTON — Facing inadequate health care resources in their home country, each year more than 7,000 Kenyans seek treatment for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer and cardiovascular disease outside their nation’s borders in European and Asian countries.
“Some of them die on the way to these countries,” said James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, before a crowd of government officers and entrepreneurs from US and Africa in Washington on Monday. “Others die on the way back.”
NCDs are a growing problem in Kenya and across the African continent. For every death due to HIV in 2005, cardiovascular disease killed five others in Africa. By 2015, chronic diseases will account for a quarter of deaths in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. And by 2020, the largest increases in NCD deaths will occur in Africa, by far surpassing any of the developed countries, the WHO estimates. The global health body predicts that if this trend continues in Africa, NCDs alone will kill far more people than deaths due to communicable and nutritional diseases put together.