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Counting the Dead: Suicide Rates in Kenya (2006 – 2017)

The number of suicide cases reported in the media has increased in the last several years, but do we have the numbers to make a case for national concern.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the number of suicides reported in Kenya rose by 58 per cent between 2008 and 2017 to reach 421. Out of the 421 suicide cases in 2017, 330 involved men compared to 91 women. On average, 317 people commit suicide every year.


The data reveals that the lowest incidents of suicide recorded were in 2010 at 75 cases, while the highest recorded cases were in 2013, 2007 and 2017 respectively. Though no study to find a causal link between suicide and elections has been conducted, it is worth mentioning that the years Kenya has recorded the highest rate of suicide have also been the years that General elections were held in Kenya.

The World Population Review ranks Kenya at position 114 among 175 countries with the highest suicide rate. Furthermore, Kenya’s suicide rate is at least 6.5 suicides per 100,000 people, a figure echoed by the World Health Organisation.

According to a world health organization 2017 report, Kenya has no vital registration data well enough for the direct estimate of suicide rates, due to the lack of proper data on the causes of death. In a study conducted by Mary Bitta, a researcher at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, a health research institute in Kenya, the criminalisation of suicide in Kenya undergirded in the penal code and cultural stigma against suicide are the main reasons for the poor state of data on suicide. Moreover, misclassification of deaths by other causes such as accidents and a lack of suicide report verification using coroner certificates are other reasons for the scanty data on suicide rates.

Indeed, without a specific place to get reliable data on suicide, the government and the citizenry are ill-equipped to fully comprehend, diagnose and tackle the issue of suicide in Kenya. In this regard, more must be done within our health, legal and criminal systems to improve data collection, reporting and handling of suicide and suicide cases in Kenya.

Infographic by Mdogo and written by Joe Kobuthi.

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Juliet Atellah is a data journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya

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Things Are Elephant: The Effect of COVID-19 in Nairobi Low-Income Areas

The full extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis in Nairobi low-income areas is yet to be seen but as Juliet Atellah analyses, it will be important to track.

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At least 30 percent of low-income earners have lost their jobs since the Government of Kenya placed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 reveals a recently published report.

The report, titled Survey on the Covid-19 Global Pandemic in Nairobi’s low income Areas conducted by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), a local research firm, found that at least 60 percent of those who have suffered loss of daily earnings claim that the restrictions should be lifted so that people can resume their normal economic activities even if this means the virus continues to spread. This is against a backdrop of increased desperation in many of these low-income neigbourhoods, which has strained resources in a least 75 percent of households, the report notes.

Social institutions and movement have not been spared either by the lockdown. According to the report, at least 66 percent of the respondents have been affected by the ban on travel into and out of the metropolitan and the imposition of the 1900 hrs to 0500 hrs curfew. James Mogaka, a resident of Kawangware told the Elephant that he has been unable to travel to his home county of Kisii to spend time with his family. He has not seen them since the regulations were enforced. As is the plight of Mogaka and many others, the report highlights that 57 percent of low-income earners are very worried on the continuation of the Nairobi travel ban and curfew and they advocate for the restrictions to be lifted so people can resume their normal activities.

Things Are Elephant: The Effect of COVID-19 in Nairobi Low-Income Areas
Increase in crime has been the major reason why over 80 percent of respondents are keen that the curfew and travel restrictions be lifted and economic activities continue. They are concerned about the future levels of crime due to the economic implications of the lockdown. When asked to corroborate this, Eunice Mwaniki, a resident of Huruma and mother of two, told The Elephant that she closes her vegetable business at 1600 hrs everyday because once dusk approaches, gangs of young men troll the streets pickpocketing and mugging citizens of their hard earned money. She emphasised that the last time she witnessed this kind of theft and daylight robbery was during the grim days of the Nyayo era when Nairobi was infamously christened “Nairobbery”

A majority of denizens are pessimistic that things will change and even bigger majorities are “very worried” about contracting the COVID-19 virus with the constant rise in the number of cases and deaths. Indeed, how such perceptions will change as the full extent of the impact of the virus crisis will be important to track moving forward, given the impact of such perceptions on actual behaviour, both related to the disease and the conditions of life more generally.

On 6th June 2020, a clear majority of respondents had hoped that the President would announce an end to both the travel ban and night curfew but what followed was only a reduction of the curfew period and a hinted policy posture to open up the country. As the country gets closer to 6th July 2020, the day the lockdown will likely be lifted; it is yet to be perceived what direction the government will take. What is clear, however, is that Kenyans are eagerly expecting a policy shift that will make their lives better.

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COVID-19 in Kenya: A Situational Analysis of the Now and the Near Future

Using mathematical modelling, Professor Waititu simulates the progress of the coronavirus outbreak.

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The daily positive cases in Kenya are on an upward trend. The highest daily count of 278 cases was reported on 27/06/2020. The total confirmed cases so far are 6,070.

In Africa, the five countries with the highest number of confirmed cases are South Africa with 138,134 cases, Egypt with 65,188 cases, Nigeria with 24,567 cases, Ghana with 16,742 cases and Algeria with 13,273 cases.

Testing

The number of confirmed cases could be attributed to the total number of tests conducted by a country. For example, by 27th June 2020, South Africa had tested 1.53 Million people. Ghana had tested 288,465 people by 25th June 2020, Nigeria had tested 130,164 people by 28th June 2020 while Kenya had 165,196 tests by 29th June 2020. The implication here is that the positive cases in Kenya could increase with increased number of tests. Kenya will therefore have to increase the number of tests across the country incase the government decides to remove its lock down restrictions in the identified hot spots. Early detection of positive cases and proper contact tracing are very important in the recovery of infected cases.

Death Rate

On the death rate, Kenya has registered 143 fatalities, translating to a death rate of 2.36%. South Africa which has the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa at 138,134, has a lower death rate of 1.78%. One of the highest death rates in Africa has been reported in Algeria at 6.78% from 897 deaths. Ghana has one of the lowest reported death rate of 0.67% from 112 deaths. Egypt has a death rate of 4.28% from 2,789 deaths while Nigeria has a death rate of 2.30% from 565 deaths. Kenya is therefore doing relatively well in managing the positive cases compared to other African countries.

Recovery

Kenya’s recovery rate is currently at 32.47% from 1,971 recoveries. This is a much lower recovery rate compared to statistics from other African countries. South Africa has a recovery rate of 49.90 % from 68,925 recoveries, Algeria has a recovery rate of 70.60% from 9,371 recoveries while Ghana and Nigeria have recovery rates of 75.98 % and 36.66% respectively. Kenya needs to raise the recovery rate to a comfortable figure above 60%. This will help the country release pressure on the health system and also motivate the easing of the existing lockdown restrictions.

Infections Prediction

How will Kenyan COVID-19 infections look like in the coming days? The answer may not be definite since the spread of the virus is determined by the nature of community response to safety strategies given by MoH such as regular hand washing, social distancing and staying at home. However, as shown in the prediction graph below, the daily infections in Kenya are going to increase as time goes by. It is predicted that in the near future, the daily cases in Kenya will soon be above 300 with the possibility of a maximum of about 400. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the testing samples will be optimally selected.

Image 2.The Peak

Has Kenya reached it’s peak? The simple answer is no. As a matter of fact, Kenya will hit the 10,000 mark of confirmed cases within the month of July 2020. As seen in the graph below for cummulative confirmed cases, the positive cases are still on an upward trend. A peak will be experienced when the cummulative cases will start stagnating around a certain figure over time. With the current trend of infections, the earliest time Kenya will reach its peak is around September 2020. It should also be noted that incase the lockdown is relaxed, Kenya will definitely experience a surge in the infections before the situation stabilises. This has happened in other countries such as South Africa, Germany and China. Since COVID-19 has spread to most of the counties in Kenya, the focus now should be on the level of preparedness by the county governments in implementing the MoH guidelines and the avalaibility of functioning and COVID-19 equiped hospitals.

Image 2.This report is based on the data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CCSE) as at 9:00am E.A.T on 29/06/2010.

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Hands Up, Don’t Shoot

If things continue as they are, 2020 will be one of the deadliest years on record for the police. By 1st June 2020, 95 people had been killed by them.

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Hands Up, Don't Shoot
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Covid-19 regulation enforcement has added a new dimension to police killings in Kenya. 18% of this year’s victims died as a result of police enforcing these rules. You can view data on #policebrutalityke in the database we built with MissingVoicesKE.

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