Advancing heart health in Kenya

The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is significant in Kenya, where heart diseases cause 25 percent of hospital admissions and 13 percent of deaths. To tackle this health challenge, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Kenya joined forces with the Kenya Cardiac Society (KCS) and the World Heart Federation (WHF) to accelerate the dissemination and uptake of the National Guidelines for the Management of Cardiovascular Diseases.

Launched by the MoH in 2018, the National CVD Guidelines are a key resource to improve the health outcomes of people living with heart diseases and equip health workers at all levels to prevent, treat and manage cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors. Less than a year after the launch of the CVD Guidelines, KCS and WHF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and with the support of Access Accelerated, are working to disseminate them to 2,000 health workers and 100 health facilities in 5 counties in Kenya and to improve heart health outcomes for an estimated 10,000 patients as a result.

As the project moves to reach health workers in the five counties – Kisumu, Kitui, Nyandarua, Nakuru and Isiolo – KCS and WHF will build on the lessons learnt and action points that emerged from a national stakeholder meeting held on 14 March 2019 in Nairobi. The meeting brought together more than 60 national experts and stakeholders – from the MoH and county agencies, academia, professional bodies and faith-based organizations – to harness their insight into the best strategies to disseminate the CVD Guidelines, discuss the right monitoring and evaluation approach to track success, and identify ways around common barriers to guideline uptake.

Participants identified a shortage of human resources, inadequate financing support for programming for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and lack of access to affordable essential laboratory investigations as the main challenges to guideline dissemination and implementation.

In response to these challenges, the participants recommended the following strategies for a successful uptake of the National CVD Guidelines:

  1. Develop a standardized dissemination package, including job aids, Train the Trainers approach and pre-service training;
  2. Utilize existing platforms, programmes and stakeholders to dissemination the guidelines, such as HIV programmes, professional societies and associations, supply chain partners and the private sector;
  3. Leverage technology to scale up dissemination;
  4. Develop a monitoring & evaluation framework to monitor progress and outcomes;
  5. Advocate for sustained availability of essential CVD commodities and supplies, especially at primary care level; and
  6. Advocate for increased and sustained resource allocation towards NCD programming.