Appraisal of Human-Centred Design as a Public Health Tool

Curbing the Incidence of Lifestyle Diseases in Kenya

  • Betty Mwiti University of Nairobi
Keywords: Design thinking, health programmes, health promotion, Human-Centered Design, lifestyle diseases, Nairobi-Kenya, Non-Communicable Diseases, public health


Recent studies in Kenya show that Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), also referred to as lifestyle diseases, contribute to approximately 4 of every 10 adult deaths annually. The rising burden of lifestyle diseases is of particular concern among poor communities, partly because of lack of awareness and limited access to quality health care. These communities have minimal knowledge on preventive and curative services on these diseases and have to spend a higher proportion of their income on health care costs for lifelong conditions. Long term measures towards the prevention of lifestyle diseases need to be addressed as a matter of urgency in curbing their prevalence. Health education and promotion towards regular screening and health checks, means one can catch these diseases early and improve chances of reversal or complete healing. Human-centered design (HCD) is a promising approach for community engagement and health promotion program planning. Through review of literature, this study explored the role of HCD as a tool towards effective communication in the prevention and management of lifestyle diseases within Kenya. By applying unique approaches to understanding user needs, a humancentered approach in creating and implementing innovative programmes towards disease prevention and management was appraised. A desktop research was done that looked at a combination of published information from journal papers, reports, books and internet articles on the HCD toolkit and other preventive measures towards diseases prevention and management. This paper argues that cost-effective and feasible preventive actions for lifestyle diseases in Kenya, through the use of HCD in designing health programmes, will possibly help avert potentially catastrophic costs for communities through primordial prevention. Designing a successful health intervention can increase access and uptake of health care and services prompting behavior change and equally improving expected health outcomes.