Knowledge and awareness of common non-communicable diseases among some rural communities in Kenya
Faraj O Alkizim, Duncan M Matheka, Brian Michira, Cyril G Siringo, Samuel Ngugi
Background: According to World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 56.9 million global deaths in 2016, 71% were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Additionally, over three quarters of NCD deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries with about 46% of deaths occurring before the age of 70 in these countries. The burden of these diseases is rising disproportionately among low income countries and populations. Over 50% of all hospital admissions and 55% of hospital deaths in Kenya are due to NCDs. It is therefore imperative to take active measures in combating NCDs. Aim: To assess the awareness of communicable diseases in comparison to non-communicable diseases among rural communities in Kenya. Method: Cluster random sampling with convenient sampling was employed to identify sample populations. Data was collected using questionnaires that inquired on awareness of Communicable Diseases - CDs (including Malaria, HIV, TB, and Diarrheal diseases) and NCDs (Diabetes, Hypertension, and Cancer). Results: Out of all respondents, 70% reported to be aware of the NCDs. When probed further, 73% of those aware could not list any known causes and/or risk factors. Among the remaining 27% who attempted to state a cause and/or risk factor, 15% gave correct responses. Among the NCDs, the best known was diabetes with 75% of respondents reporting to be aware of the disease, and among them 18% having correctly stated a cause and/or risk factor. The least known NCD was cancer, with 52% of respondents aware, among them more than 90% not knowing any cause and/or risk factors. Majority (91%) of the respondents were; however, aware of the CDs, and even correctly indicated their causes. The best known CD was malaria, having an awareness of 97% while the least known was HIV/AIDS, known by 75% of the respondents, which may be an an underestimate given the stigmatization of the disease among the communities. Discussion: The world is experiencing an NCD epidemic as the burden surpasses that of CDs. The awareness of NCDs among the public is however not representative of this. Majority of NCDs; therefore, go un-prevented, unnoticed, and are diagnosed at late stages of complication leading to severe morbidity and mortality. This can be anticipated to the bias in extensive publicity and awareness enjoyed by CDs at the expense of NCDs. Communities are therefore not adequately informed on NCDs and only become aware of them once diagnosed and are severely ill. Conclusion: Creating awareness is the first step to curb increased prevalence of NCDs in our communities.