Lishe Living’s Impact on Patients Living with NCDs during the Pandemic

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Villgro Kenya’s open call for COVID-19 response solutions presented an opportunity for Lishe Living, a digital wellness and nutrition platform to reach more people living with non-communicable diseases. Lishe Living offers them a nutrition solution to manage their conditions during the pandemic.

Sharon Olago, the founder of Lishe Living, applied for the grant after learning that persons living with non-communicable diseases were distressed and particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“At the onset of the pandemic, I received a call from the Kenya Defeat Diabetes Association’s Reuben Mogaka to come up with a solution for their members who were at high risk of dying from COVID-19. We decided to run an online clinic on Whatsapp with two trained medical microbiologists and two nutritionists to offer individualized nutrition programmes to 400 members,” said Sharon.

Following a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight are key to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. For many patients living with diabetes, the cost of insulin continues to be a challenge. Through the Lishe Living group, a member mentioned that she was able to save Ksh 4,000 per month on money she would have used to buy insulin. 

“My insulin has reduced by 5 units that's saving 2 pallets per month roughly Ksh 4,000. Lishe Living is a great group, it encourages us to eat healthy and right portions to help me get good sugar control and do exercise according to fitness levels... those tests have helped me learn about my health and diabetes,” the member posted on a survey done by Lishe Living.

Speaking of the support she has received from Villgro Kenya, Sharon mentions that the diagnostic panels and the mentorship program have helped move the company forward towards their goal of profitability and sustainability.

“The grant has helped us sustain our nutritionists’ contribution as we test this model, and the diagnostic panels help us think through how to make the model profitable in the long run. Through Villgro Kenya, we are not only getting the finance but also the technical support which is more beneficial for us. Our mentor Ankit Jhanwar has also been very helpful in our operations through our weekly check-ins”.

Unlike HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, access to care for most non-communicable diseases such as diabetes is a major problem especially among the poor, a situation which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. With interventions like Lishe Living, more patients can get access to personalized information from professionals on how to manage their conditions.