Kenya is among the healthiest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), according to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index.
Kenya moved 13 places to 113 compared to the 2017 ranking. The Bloomberg Healthiest Countries Index analyses factors that contribute to populations’ overall health and well-being in 169 countries.
According to Bloomberg, the index grades countries based on life expectancy, rates of obesity, tobacco use and environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.
In the SSA region, Kenya ranked third after Mauritius (74), which dropped one place from the previous gauge, and Cape Verde (94).
North-African countries far surpassed SSA region in the 2019 edition of the biennial report. Tunisia came first at 59 followed by Algeria (64) and Morocco (68) to close the top three list of healthiest countries in Africa.
Reduced mortality by diseases and injuries, increased access to healthcare and a modest life expectancy are among the factors that saw Kenya rise.
According to the latest data available from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on life expectancy at birth, Kenya outperforms most countries in the region, only trailing North African countries, Cape Verde, Seychelles and Mauritius.
Other factors that contributed include low behavioural risks as compared to other countries in the region. The behavioural metrics include tobacco and alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, obesity, mental health, access to vaccination services, physical activity and childhood nutrition.
Based on data from WHO, Kenya’s alcohol consumption is one of the lowest in the region at 3.4 litres while Nigeria, which is ranked as the third most unhealthy country globally, consumes an average of up to 13.4 litres of pure alcohol.
Data from the Interior ministry indicate that about 5,000 people perish annually because of alcoholism.
Data by the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) released last year show that around 2.8 million Kenyans are struggling with alcohol-related problems, a prevalence rate of 10.4 percent.
The risk of young people dying from non-communicable diseases (NCD) as a result of some of the behavioural risks in the country is 18 percent, another factor that may be holding the country from performing better in the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index.
The percentage of teenagers who smoke in Kenya, according to Global Tobacco Youth Survey, is about 10-20 percent. This is among the highest and concerning in the continent considering that majority of adult smokers develop the habit in their teenage years.
Also, the data used by Bloomberg to generate the index places Kenya as one of the African countries with the lowest suicide mortality rate per 100,000 population, only beaten by Sao Tome and Principe as well as Algeria.
While the government has made significant efforts to increase access to vaccination services, Kenya with only 32 percent coverage still falls behind a number of countries. Seychelles leads the park at 99 percent of the population being able to get vaccines.
On the environmental metrics, which were as well used to determine healthiness of countries, Kenya is lagging behind in terms of access to clean water and sanitation. The WHO says that about 52 people per 100,000 die as a result of poor hygiene and lack of clean water and sanitation.
The index, which analyses data from the WHO, United Nations Population Division and World Bank, placed Spain as the healthiest country in the world followed by Italy and Iceland respectively.
Of the top 10 countries in this year’s Index, only Japan (4), Australia (7) Singapore (8) and Israel (10) are not from Europe. The United States and China, the world leading economies, were placed 35 and 52 respectively.
Other countries ahead of Kenya included Libya (97) and Egypt (99). In the East Africa, Rwanda ranked 117, Tanzania (122), Uganda (147) and Burundi (157).
Most African countries in SSA ranked lower than some war-torn countries such as Syria (104) and Iraq (118) in what could indicate the poor state of healthcare on the continent.
Also, from the report, the two largest economies in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, were outperformed by many countries.
Out of the top 30 unhealthiest countries in the world, SSA region accounted for 27 with Sierra Leone (169), Cote d’Ivoire (168) and Nigeria (167) recording a drop from the previous ranking. Yemen, Haiti and Afghanistan were the only countries outside the region at the bottom of the list.
Overall, the Bloomberg survey noted that the eating habits of some of the countries at the top could not be ignored. The Mediterranean diet in Spain and Italy could hold the secret of living long among other factors.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.