Category Archives: Women Resource Center

Realizing that women in Kenya are the gatekeepers of their families’ health and well being, our Women Resource Center seeks to provide relevant information to help them meet the demands of this all important role.

TYPE 1 DIABETES: THE LESSER KNOWN FORM OF DIABETES

A lot has been talked about the diabetes epidemic in Kenya. However, it is lost on many that there are two forms of diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes; completely different from each other in how and when they occur and consequently how they are medically treated.

On the one hand, Type 2 Diabetes afflicts about 95% of all people suffering from diabetes. On the other hand, Type 1 diabetes is less common and is mostly diagnosed in early childhood (although rare late onset in adults is also possible). This is why it is also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes.

Unlike Type 2 diabetes which is attributed more to lifestyle changes and can therefore be controlled by interventions such as weight loss and diet change, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune genetic disorder that results from the body attacking its own pancreatic beta cells.

This completely shuts down the production of insulin in the body. Those diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes must therefore be put on insulin therapy for the rest of their lives.

According to a recent Nation newspaper article, there are about 5000 children suffering from Type 1 diabetes in Kenya. The article also points out to a sad fact; that many Type 1 cases in Kenya are not caught or managed correctly, leading to the death of many children from complications of the disease every year.

Due to its rarity and early onset in children, it is easy  to see how parents and other caregivers can easily miss the symptoms of the disease. Although some of the symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be quite similar, many people will not immediately associate these symptoms in children to diabetes.

According to Mayo Clinic, the following are the main symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Bedwetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • In females, a vaginal yeast infection (Source: Mayo Clinic)

It is recommended that a child is taken to a doctor if you observe any or a combination of the above symptoms.

With the body no longer producing insulin, complications such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis resulting from Type 1 diabetes can quickly lead to coma and death. However, disciplined administration of insulin will easily keep it under control and most people suffering from Type 1 diabetes live a relatively normal life right into old age.

Treating Type 1 diabetes in Kenya can present its own set of unique challenges to parents especially the financial challenge associated with the life-long cost of insulin and glucose testing supplies.

The good news is that many resources are becoming available to parents and caregivers to help their children cope with the disease with many hospitals training their staff on Type 1 diabetes management.

In addition, there are organizations that are helping subsidize the cost of insulin and glucose testing supplies:

  •  Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre (DMI Centre) which works with donors and insulin manufucturers to provide free insulin to children and teenagers with Type I diabetes.
  • According to this recent Nation newspaper article,  Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Gertrude’s Children’s hospital have programs that offer subsidized or free treatment of Type 1 diabetes.  Learn more about the PETCA program offered by Gertrude Children’s Hospital from this Nation newspaper article and how it is benefitting children suffering from the disease.

See the following KTN News piece on the KNH program subsidizing insulin for Type 1 Diabetes Patients.

CANCER IN KENYA: HAVE THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST?

According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, Kenya ranks 49th in the top 50 countries with the highest the occurrence in cancer among women. This is quite alarming since we know that there are many cancer cases that go undetected in our country due to lack of screening facilities. Many countries on this list rank very high because of their effectiveness in detecting cancer cases in their population and it is indeed sad to think we might rank higher in this list if each and every cancer case was detected in Kenya. According to the Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations, only a paltry 20-30% of cancer cases are detected on time due to lack of diagnostic equipment.

Talking to many Kenyans, you get this idea that each and every family has a story about a relative who has died from cancer, is fighting cancer or in those rare cases survived cancer. This gets one wondering whether the increase in cancer cases is a case where the chickens have come home to roost due to our daily exposure to carcinogens or even simply the change in our diet and lifestyles.

Speculative Nature of Cancer Causes

It is extremely tricky to determine the cause of many forms of cancer on an individual. With many cancer cases, you cannot definitively apply the principle of cause and effect and causes are speculative at best in most cases. To make it worse, some scientists think that occurrence of cancer might even have more to do with our genetic predisposition than external factors. In certain cases such as lung cancer, cause and effect is more direct since we know if you smoke the likelihood of you developing lung cancer is high. But based on research, exposure to certain culprits such as asbestos  or chemicals in cigarettes offer a direct correlation to the occurrence of cancer. Furthermore, it can take even decades to develop cancer after exposure to cancer causing agents. This is unlike chronic diseases such as diabetes where it is easy to diagnose and treat.

Escalation in Cancer Cases for our Parents’ Generation

Growing up, cancer did not seem to be everyone’s conversation as it is today. This leads one to wonder whether cancer in our parents’ generation is as a result of those chemicals they used in our dips or sprayers to kill ticks; pesticides to treat coffee, preserve maize and beans; herbicides to kill weeds or fertilizers; banned chemicals such as DDT or even Doom for killing mosquitoes. Could it be just the transition from eating good-old fashioned natural foods of our grandparents to processed foods that are now easily available in our supermarkets?

This is a question that scientists in Kenya will need to answer if the upward trajectory of cancer cases is to be stopped.

How about Prevention?

But how do you prevent a disease for which you do not definitively know the real cause?

Probably erring on the side of caution might be the best way forward for us for now, taking precautions when we handle chemicals and trying to incorporate natural foods to our daily diets.

According to Cancer Research UK, 4 in 10 cases of cancer are preventable by doing the following (This is also supported by a nearly identical list by Mayo Clinic a top hospital in the world when it comes to cancer treatment):

  1. Not smoking
  2. Keeping a healthy body weight
  3. Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  4. Cutting back on alcohol
  5. Enjoying the sun safely
  6. Keeping active
  7. Observe safety precautions when using any kind of chemical

A weekend away from the ever-increasing smog and smoke in our major cities might also do the trick especially when it comes to lung cancer.

And then, unfortunately, we have to leave the thorny issue of genetic predisposition to God and hopefully genetic engineering of the future.

FOUNDERS OF AKIRACHIX – INSPIRING GIRLS TO PURSUE CAREERS IN ICT

When you have world leaders streaming through your doors to learn more about your work then you know you are doing a great job. AkiraChix is inspiring and instilling confidence in young women to pursue careers and entrepreneurship opportunities in the male-dominated ICT sector through their training programs.

Visits by important dignitaries such as the UN Secretary General and President Uhuru Kenyatta and sharing the stage with President Barack Obama at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit is clear validation that AkiraChix is taking seriously the all-important work of creating the next generation of Kenyan women ICT innovators.

Every year AkiraChix recruits 30 young women mainly from low income areas and inserts them into a year-long intensive program that hones their programming, design and  entrepreneurship skills. With this wholesome approach to training, these young women are well prepared not only for employment but also pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities and therefore increasing the chances of improving their financial position.

In addition to their training programs, AkiraChix also runs high school, community and kids outreach programs.

AkiraChix was founded by Marie Githinji, Angela O. Lungati, Judith Owigar and Linda Kamau. They have been widely recognized together and individually for their work at AkiraChix. Read more about the founders on Akirachix’s official website.

Learn more about AkiraChix from the video below or by visiting them at their website or on their Facebook page.


Hear Marie speak about AkiraChix,


Hear Judith participate in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit alongside Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Barack Obama.


Linda speaks about her work at AkiraChix


Hear Angela talk more about AkiraChix

Photo By Willowbl00 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

JULIANA ROTICH: ICT INNOVATOR

Juliana Rotich’s resume and biography is more than impressive by any measure. Senior Ted Fellow, MIT Director’s Fellow, Board Member at Kenya Vison2030, Ushahidi and an Advisory Board Member of the BASF Stakeholder Advisory Council and iHub are just some of the titles and roles that she holds.

Juliana was a co-founder of Ushahidi Inc. and was its Executive Director between 2011 aand 2015. Currently, she is the Executive Director of BRCK.org, a non-profit organization which is affiliated with BRCK Inc.

Ushahidi, an open source crowd-sourcing platform, was first used in Kenya to track and map violence outbreaks during the post-election violence of 2008. It has now been used worldwide to assist first responders during disasters such as the Haiti Earthquake, the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand among many others.

The Nation newspaper recently featured the BRCK, a rugged WIFI Hotspot and extender device, as one of the hottest innovations to come out of Kenya’s Silicon Savannah.

Juliana epitomizes the confidence and clarity of mind that the newest generation of Kenyan innovators possess. Learn more about Juliana, her many accomplishments and accolades from her personal website.

Hear Juliana narrate how the Ushahidi platform works.

Photocourtesy: CC Image courtesy of afromusing on Flickr

INFORMATION ON HOSPITALS IN INDIA

One of the major worries for all Kenyans is the health and well-being of our loved ones especially when it comes to accessing quality healthcare. In this section we provide important links to healthcare institutions in India that provide specialized patient services to international patients.


Hospitals in India


See also
transearthmedicaltourism.com 


Health Insurance Resources

New websites recently  introduced are giving Kenyans the opportunity to compare and shop online for heath insurance plans from leading Kenya insurance companies.