Emerging Nicotine, Tobacco Products Pose Challenges For Tobacco Control

The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2022 KDHS) shows a decrease in tobacco use from 12% in 2014 to 9% in 2022.

State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary (PS) Mary Muthoni Muriuki said that despite the progress, Kenya now faces new challenges with the rapid proliferation of Novel Nicotine and Emerging Tobacco Products (NNETPs), such as nicotine pouches, vapes, and electronic cigarettes.

Ms. Muriuki said that these products are often marketed as less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes and are targeted toward young people with appealing flavors and misleading health claims.

Thus, ‘The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Development Partners and Civil Society Organizations, aims to leverage World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2024 to increase awareness of the dangers associated with both conventional tobacco products and NNETPs,’ said the PS.

She said that her ministry is seeking to create awareness on the adverse effects of tobacco and nicotine products
on public health, contributing to increased morbidity and mortality in Kenya and globally.

‘Additionally, Kenya has joined and is observing World Tobacco Day (WNTD), a global day promoting health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption,’ said the PS.

She continued: ‘Established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987, this day has been celebrated annually on May 31st since 1988. This year’s theme, ‘Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference,’ aligns with the WHO’s ‘Stop the Lies’ campaign, a vital initiative to shield young people from the manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry.’

Ms. Muriuki said that this campaign calls for an end to tobacco industry interference in health policy, a demand echoed by youth globally who urge governments to protect them from the dangers of tobacco products.

The PS said that Kenya has made significant strides in tobacco control, including the implementation of stringent regulations and policies ai
med at reducing tobacco use. Key achievements include the establishment of a Multi-Sector Task Force.

‘A dedicated task force was established to investigate novel nicotine and other emerging tobacco products, shedding light on various aspects of these products and their potential impact on public health. Implementation of the recommendations is currently underway,’ explained the PS.

She added that Kenya has continued to enforce the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, which mandates graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and bans smoking in public places. Enforcement of smoke-free laws has led to significant reductions in exposure to second-hand smoke in public areas.

Ms. Muriuki highlighted that a comprehensive review of the Tobacco Control Act was conducted to amend and align it with current market dynamics. ‘An Omnibus Bill carrying several amendments, including the ban on shisha, is currently under consideration,’ said the PS.

She added that a dedicated multi-agency enforcement team was established to
ensure compliance with tobacco control regulations and to crack down on the illicit tobacco trade. ‘Public awareness campaigns, especially focusing on youth and vulnerable groups, were intensified through various media platforms, educating the public on the risks of tobacco use,’ she said.

Reiterating Kenya’s commitment to developing and enforcing stringent health policies against tobacco and nicotine products, Ms. Muriuki said that the Ministry of Health has planned a series of activities to mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2024, including a one-Day Sensitization Session for the County Health workforce, focusing on enforcement officers.

‘We have also organized a Two-Day School Sensitization Programme targeting identified secondary and primary schools, aligning with this year’s theme. Other activities include Media Engagements encompassing interviews, panel discussions on selected TV and radio stations, print media special pullouts, opinion articles, and social media engagements,’ said the PS.

Kenya News Agency

NHC Unveils New Brand, 5 Year Strategic Plan

The National Housing Corporation (NHC) has launched its 70th New Brand and Strategic plan for the year 2023-2027 with the aim of impacting lives through the provision of innovative housing solutions across the country.

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Lands, Public Works, and Housing and Urban Development Alice Wahome says that NHC is prepared for a total of 50,000 housing units across the country.

Wahome observed that a decently housed nation will be achieved through the support of parliament and the government budget allocation, and she also commended the community and stakeholders who have worked to ensure every citizen has an opportunity to find a place they can proudly call home.

‘We are here to reflect on all the past achievements of NHC, present success, and chart a bold cause for the future of the housing agenda,’ maintained Wahome.

She noted that the journey of NHC began in 1953, a time when the need for organised housing solutions arose, adding that over the past seven decades, NHC has achieved numero
us milestones that have had a profound impact on the lives of many citizens, including the delivery of over 50,000 housing units across the country.

The CS made these remarks on Monday in Nairobi during the commemoration of 70 years of NHC positively impacting lives across the country through the provision of innovative housing solutions.

She stated that NHC housing will help the country’s stability and progress through fostering community development, economic growth, and social harmony.

‘NHC projects have been diverse, inclusive of affordable housing for low-income families and high-quality residences for the middle and other classes,’ she exemplified, adding that NHC has been instrumental in developing entire communities with essential amenities such as schools, hospitals, and facilities.

Wahome reiterated that NHC is committed to achieving sustainable development, whereby, in recent years, the corporation has integrated green building practices and incubated projects which ensure that housing solution
s are environmentally friendly and resilient.

‘It is crucial to look into the future since the role of NHC is more critical now than ever as it faces challenges and opportunities presented by growing population and urbanisation,’ she noted.

The CS pointed out that the government has prioritised affordable housing and underscored the NHC commitment to address the challenges, vowing that NHC will continue to be at the forefront in collaborating with the Ministry to explore innovative financing housing model, leverage public and private partnerships, and harness cutting-edge technology to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing.

She disclosed that NHC has embarked on a new chapter in conveying the new brand identity, which symbolises commitment to innovation and modernization, terming the identity as more of a tagline representing the core values, including integrity and inclusivity, and signifies the pledge to continue providing high quality, affordable housing while adopting new technologies and metho
dologies to serve the citizens.

‘NHC’s strategic plan for the year 2023-2027 outlines the vision for the future and strategic initiatives that will enable them to achieve their goals,’ voiced the CS.

Wahome highlighted the 5 key pillars of the plan, including increasing housing supply to address the home demand for housing, which involves the construction of new homes and renovating the existing ones; promoting home ownership through mortgages, mortgage subsidies, low-interest loans, and rent-to-own schemes that will make home ownership accessible to the Kenyan population; and enhancing urbanisation by leveraging architecture to address the urban population.

Others include fostering community development through investment in government community facilities such as schools, among others, and embracing technology and innovation to improve efficiency and sustainable households.

At the same time, the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service, Felix Koskei, said that NHC has provided affordable housing that w
ill shape the nation’s landscape through innovation and excellence, stressing that the new brand is not only a logo but a holistic transformation of fidelity to the rule of law in the use of public resources.

Koskei urged stakeholders to collaborate with corporations and the government in order to impact digitalization in all states.

He mentioned that the housing plan is critical since it creates quality jobs for young people who keep graduating every year.

‘The five-year plan will help in the delivery of housing to the citizens, and it will not only build communities but also homes and also promote the economy of the country since contractors are using local products as they transfer skills,’ said Koskei.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Danish Govt Announces USD 70 Million Support For Refugees In Kenya

The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, Dan Jannik Jørgensen, announced on Monday that Denmark and other philanthropic organizations have joined hands to support the implementation of the Shirika Plan at a cost of US $70 million over three years.

The plan aims at transforming the refugee camps into integrated settlements that support the socioeconomic inclusion of refugees and host communities in Garissa, Turkana, and urban areas.

Accompanied by Governor Jeremiah Lomurkai, he made the announcement during the launch of the Inclusive Refugee Response Programme in Kakuma, Turkana West Sub-County, where he was the Chief Guest.

In his remarks, Governor Lomorukai said the programme will boost ongoing efforts by the County Government to deliver critical services to both refugees and the host community, in line with the Kenya Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (KISEDP II).

‘The programme aligns with the Refugees Act 2021, which provides a legal foundation for refugees in K
enya to achieve greater self-reliance among refugees. It also empowers local authorities like ours to enhance the delivery of essential services to all community members, fostering a more inclusive society,’ said Governor Lomorukai.

He acknowledged existing gaps in the healthcare system despite investments by the government and appreciated the Danish government’s support for improving primary healthcare.

Governor Lomorukai reiterated that collaboration is instrumental in enhancing access to quality and affordable healthcare in the county.

He pointed out that, ‘the integration of refugee and local communities funding through partnerships with organizations like Amref, which is funded by DANIDA, have already commenced, with inception meetings already concluded. These steps are vital in ensuring that our collaborative efforts are sustained and effective.’

He lauded the National Government and Turkana County Government for their efforts in hosting and promoting policies that support refugee inclusion.

‘We we
lcome the government’s progressive approach and the new Ushirika Plan. This, we believe, is a matter that should be replicated in other refugee-hosting areas,’ he concluded.

UNHCR Country Representative Caroline Van Buren said that public-private partnerships focusing on inclusion are vital for sustainable development. She noted that the programme will facilitate refugee inclusion and leverage their potential for local economic growth.

The County Assembly was represented by House Speaker Christopher Nakuleu as well as MCAs Eliud Emoni (Kakuma) and Julius Apuron (Kalobeyei).

Heads of philanthropic foundations (LEG5O, GRUNDFOS, and MFA) and representatives from the national government were also present.

Source: Kenya News Agency

NCA Out To Mentor Young Contractors

The National Construction Authority (NCA) has partnered with Community Roads Empowerment (CORE-Kenya), a non-governmental organisation rehabilitating access roads in Meru town, to train and empower young people to be future contractors in the construction industry.

The young people who are directors in their specific groups met in one of the hotels in Meru town, where they underwent a training session on NCA registration requirements, processes, and regulations.

According to Geroge Kaluma, an engineer at CORE, the training was meant to equip the directors with knowledge and skills that will enable them to register as small-scale contractors under NCA Category 8 and later on progress as they continue working and earning more income.

‘Today we had 15 groups undergoing training by NCA, and they are afterwards expected to register with the body as agreed.’

‘We are therefore expecting that in the coming few weeks we will get the status of the registration, but what we are sure of is that all the groups will do
it smoothly now that they are already aware of the procedures and requirements,’ said Mr. Kaluma.

By the end of June, which marks two years of existence in Meru, Mr. Kaluma added, CORE expects to have 35 registered groups, with 20 in the first year and 15 in the second year.

Engineer Antony Mwangi from NCA said they also took participants through the process of registration for skilled and unskilled workers, which the body does free of charge.

‘We have already told them what they require for their registration, and we guarantee them of our support throughout the process in case they get stuck along the way,’ said Mr. Mwangi.

He congratulated CORE for organising the young people in groups, adding that this way, they will attract more tenders considering that they also have women as well as people with disabilities as their members.

‘When they are registered, they become official members of NCA, and they are recognised by the government, meaning they can easily get tenders and work anywhere in the country
as opposed to when they are just out there and working as individuals,’ said Mr. Mwangi.

He thanked the CORE-Kenya, the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), the World Bank, the national government, and the county government of Meru for carrying out such an important initiative that will leave the young people with a source of livelihood.

‘Without the efforts of all the partners in this project, all these people gathered here today, as well as those who are not here, might just be languishing out there. But what you are doing is commendable, and thank you for inviting us. I hope you will call us again to continue the good work,’ said Mr. Antony.

Destiny Group Director, Mr. Duncan Murithi Marete, said the invaluable insights from NCA were an eye-opener for them, and they will henceforth use them for their own benefit.

‘We are happy that today we know the requirements for registration from the horse’s mouth, and we will definitely play our part in ensuring that we are fully registered,’ said Mr. Marete, add
ing that they will forward the information to their group members for action.

The directors are part of the 375 people in Gitimbine who underwent hands-on training on road rehabilitation for the second year, where eight kilometres of access roads were rehabilitated.

CORE’s main objective in Meru is to boost the status of Meru youth through the creation of job opportunities as well as skills development for self-reliance.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Health Ministry Commits To Improve Menstrual Health

The Ministry of Health has reaffirmed its commitment to improving menstrual health and hygiene across the nation as the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day, commemorated every 28th day of May.

State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary (PS) Mary Muthoni Muriuki said that this year’s theme focuses on making Kenya period-friendly, ensuring every woman and girl has access to the necessary resources and support for managing menstruation with dignity and safety.

The PS explained that since 2014, Kenya has commemorated Menstrual Hygiene Day to highlight the importance of proper menstrual practices and to work towards a period-friendly nation. Efforts include providing accurate information on menstruation, ensuring access to affordable menstrual products, promoting sanitation facilities, and implementing sustainable waste management practices.

‘Kenya’s Three-Pronged Approach to Menstrual Management includes breaking the silence, promoting open discussions about menstruati
on to eliminate stigma, and educating girls and women about this natural biological process,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She highlighted that other efforts include hygienic and safe management by ensuring access to water, washing materials, private spaces for menstrual management, pain management at home and in public spaces, and overall healthcare.

Ms. Muriuki added that they also advocate for safe reuse and disposal through environmentally friendly methods for the reuse, collection, and disposal of menstrual waste.

According to the PS, Kenya launched its MHM policy on May 28, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. While significant strides have been made, including the integration of MHM into various government activities and projects, continued support and improvement are needed.

‘Research conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2016 highlights challenges faced by Kenyan girls and women regarding menstrual health and hygiene. Key findings include a reliance on disposable pads among 46% of respondents, with 54% of K
enyan girls experiencing challenges accessing menstrual hygiene management (MHM) products,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She said that the lack of access to MHM products is associated with risky sexual behavior, with some resorting to unsafe methods or engaging in transactional sex to acquire them.

The PS added that poor WASH conditions in schools further exacerbate challenges, hindering girls’ education and attendance.

‘Despite efforts, including the provision of sanitary pads in schools, more than half of menstruating Kenyan girls and women (65%) still lack sustainable access to safe menstrual products,’ explained the PS.

She highlighted that the Ministry has made strides in providing accurate information on menstruation to dispel myths and taboos. It has developed and launched a menstrual hygiene management teachers’ handbook to support this component in primary schools.

Ms. Muriuki added that efforts have been made to ensure affordable access to quality menstrual products and to promote sanitation facilities th
at offer privacy and support.

‘Sustainable menstrual waste management practices have been implemented, integral to the Ministry’s ‘Epuka Uchafu Campaign,’ aimed at improving overall hygiene and health standards,’ said the PS.

Additionally, the PS said partnerships with organizations such as USAID, Amref, and UNICEF have been crucial in supporting counties to implement the MHM policy, with anticipation of further support from the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund.

She said that a call to action is issued to organizations and implementers to support county-level implementation of the MHM Policy, lobby the National Government for full policy implementation, and support the establishment of the National MHM Task Force.

‘Opportunities for partnership and collaboration include joint learning, research endeavors, progress assessment meetings, and strengthening the market base for MHM products and services,’ said Ms. Muriuki.

She assured that the Ministry of Health remains committed to creating a supportive environmen
t where every woman and girl can manage menstruation with dignity and safety, envisioning a future where menstruation is not a barrier to education, health, or empowerment.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Help Me Raise Sh4 Million For Kidney Transplant, Man Appeals

A 62-year-old man is seeking assistance to raise Sh4 million to undergo a kidney transplant in India to get a new lease of life after years of battling end-stage renal disease.

In retrospect, Samson Kavoi, said his health woes started in 1991, when he was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.

‘It reached a point where urinating was difficult. When I went to the hospital, I was informed I had kidney problems because I stopped peeing at all. The doctor told me the condition is kidney end stage, and it can only be treated through dialysis,’ explained Kavoi with tears flowing down his cheeks in his house in Migadini, Changamwe.

Kavoi started dialysis in 2022 with three sessions a week, spending four hours in each session. Each session of dialysis cost Sh 9600, with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) catering for one session per week.

‘Life has not been the same since I was diagnosed with kidney end stage. I am the sole breadwinner in my family. The disease has disrupted my day-to-day activit
ies. I cannot do any work,’ said Kavoi.

He has undergone several In-Center Hemodialysis (HD), but doctors have advised him not to continue with HD.

Kavoi now uses a hemodialysis catheter, but he said, ‘It poses a big risk of infection since it is connected to the heart, which doctors don’t prefer because it may result in heart problems.’

He noted that dialysis is not the cure but a way of helping a patient live. He revealed that doctors usually give patients five years, for the kidneys to function optimally. After three years, if they are not functioning, they recommend a kidney transplant.

‘A fellow patient has successfully undergone a transplant in India. I have been wishing for the same to happen to me. The money needed for the transplant is Sh4 million. I know well-wishers can assist me in getting out of this depressing situation. It is a pain for me,’ appealed Kavoi.

He revealed that dialysis has weakened his body as it always removes important nutrients. His daughter is ready to donate a kidney and
has undergone all the necessary tests.

John Osiemo, Kavoi’s friend, urged well-wishers to fulfil Kavoi’s dream of living a normal life.

‘We have seen Kavoi’s health deteriorate, but we didn’t know what he was going through. When he reached the dialysis stage, he sought assistance through the church,’ said Osiemo.

Source: Kenya News Agency