First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has urged health sector stakeholders to prioritise early diagnosis of heart diseases by intensifying awareness creation, access to information, diagnosis services and early treatment.
The First Lady said success in tackling cardiovascular diseases requires more research, data collection and public knowledge necessary in identifying symptoms of the illnesses, especially among women and children.
Further, the First Lady said there was an urgent need to expand partnerships, mobilize more resources and develop human capacity as well as formulate legislation and policy interventions needed to address the rising cases of cardiovascular ailments.
“I applaud the advances that have already been made by our Government and all partners represented here in prioritizing cardiovascular diseases through preparedness initiatives across the country,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said.
The First Lady spoke on Thursday evening when she officially opened this year’s Africa STEMI Live Congress where she rallied stakeholders to intensify their efforts to defeat heart diseases on the continent.
At the same time, the First Lady called for personal commitment in the search for healthier lives saying good health was critical for economic growth and societal progress.
She urged cardiovascular health stakeholders in Africa to focus more on the training of healthcare providers and the provision of life-saving drugs in remote areas so as to ensure that people affected by heart disease have access to primary health services.
“It involves training (some of which is being offered during this Conference) and access to life-saving drugs especially in hard to reach areas. Clot breaking drugs ensure that a patient stays alive before they can reach a hospital that will place them in a comprehensive intensive care unit,” she said.
The Africa STEMI Live Congress 2022, which is being held in Kenya for the third time in five years, has brought together cardiovascular health professionals and partners from both public and private sectors in Africa, America, Europe and Asia to explore opportunities for ending the deadly ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack.
Once again, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta applauded local initiatives geared toward addressing cardiovascular and heart diseases in the country such as the Kenya Country Preparedness Initiative and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) amendment that includes cover for acute heart attack treatment in Kenya.
“These interventions have all contributed towards the impact we jointly seek – to strengthen the resilience of our health systems by giving wider access to treatment and further addressing financial barriers that have hindered many Kenyans seeking treatment,” the First Lady said.
She thanked the organisers of the conference for their commitment and deployment of resources needed to collectively address the rising burden of cardiovascular diseases globally.
“I am especially encouraged by the extensive partnerships that have been forged since the initial Africa STEMI LIVE in 2017 featuring partners from the African continent, Asia, the United Kingdom, China, the Ministry of Health, members from the Pan-African Society of Cardiology, the Kenyan Cardiac Society, Heart Attack Concern and hospitals in Kenya,” the First Lady appreciated.
She also praised the STEMI program for exploring homegrown solutions to the growing cases of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease as well as showcasing the latest developments and solutions for the management of heart ailments.
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of Heart Attack Concern Kenya Dr Robert Mathenge said few Kenyans access the standard heart attack healthcare recommended by the World Health Organization and called for the introduction and implementation of a standard care protocol in the country.
Dr Mathenge thanked First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for her continued commitment to the fight against heart diseases in the country noting that the recent reform of the NHIF law to include heart patients was progressive.
On his part, the President of the Pan African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR) Professor Elijah Ogola decried the absence of comprehensive healthcare services in Kenya saying there were only eight cardilabs in the country out of which seven are located in Nairobi and one in Mombasa.
Professor Ogola called for urgent devolution of cardiovascular healthcare services to the Counties as well as adoption of preventive measures to curb the disease.
The conference was also addressed by the President of the Kenya Cardiac Society Dr Bernard Samia, Director of Philips-East Africa Dr Muthoni Ntonjira and Africa STEMI Co-founder Dr Awadh Mohamed among others.