Document Type



Family Medicine (East Africa)


Approximately 580,000 km2 in size, the Republic of Kenya is as big as Botswana but only half the size of countries like South Africa, Mali, and Angola. Kenya is comprised of eight provinces: Central, Coast, Eastern, Nairobi, North Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley, and Western. The 2009 census revealed a population of over 38 million people, with a population density of approximately 66 persons per square kilometre. Majority of the population (68%) lives in rural areas, as compared with the sub-Saharan African average of approximately 62%. With a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US $1,600 in 2010, Kenya is considered a low-income country–– with 50% of the population living below the poverty line. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the country’s mortality and morbidity. Although its prevalence is higher than the regional average at 6.3% for people ages 15–49 years, it is much lower than many other sub-Saharan African countries. In addition to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrheal diseases are major killers. The burden of communicable diseases is high, with malaria as the leading cause of morbidity (30%), followed by respiratory diseases (24.5%). Malaria prevalence is 14%, and HIV prevalence is 7.4%, with a higher rate in women (8.5%) compared to men (5.6%). The non-communicable disease burden is also on the rise with diabetes prevalence at 3.3%, a threefold increase over the last 10 years. Mental health issues and road traffic injuries are also on the rise. Thirteen percent of school-age children aged 13–15 years are active cigarette smokers. These put Kenya in the company of other low-income countries predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to face the ‘‘double hump’’ burden of communicable and chronic disease over the next several decades.


African Journal of Emergency Medicine