Skip to main content

Can Kenya get a car free day?

Sitting on tarmac

A few weeks ago in the news was a story on the people seeking cancer treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital. They were many and from all over the country. But the hospital only has a bed capacity of 30, resulting in those that do not get beds to sleep on the floor. That was sad.

Now cancer is the second after cardiovascular diseases of non-communicable diseases of concern globally, accounting for 8.3 million deaths (WHO). In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd highest cause of morbidity [7% of deaths per year] with an estimated 39,000 new cases each year, and more than 27,000 deaths per year. Moreover, 60% of Kenyans affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old. This is according to data published by the Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations. The numbers could have increased over the years bringing us to how much we need to prevent these NCDs. As it is, the cancer treatment machine India promised us is yet to get here, but even when it does, it will not be sufficient. At least not by itself.

Sometime in May, Rwanda; specifically Kigali, introduced a car-free day that is to be done monthly. Now on this day, cars are not allowed to parts of the city from 8 am to 12 noon. It’s an effort to promote physical activity. Of course it received criticism and rejection but citizens are slowly warming up to it.

Physical activity is a modifiable risk factor for NCDs, cancers such as endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon included. These make some of the most common cancers in the developing countries and Kenya as well. Given, Rwanda has something good going on. Something we should probably borrow. But while we wait for cycling lanes and maybe such days, we can park outside town and walk the distance.

Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour, and humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”