Need for State to intervene in country’s rising cancer cases

Only sincere government intervention can save Kenyans from this menace called cancer.

It is saddening to see cancer patients continue to suffer in the two major referral hospitals. Only Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi provides both radiotherapy and chemotherapy services.

The government should purchase enough cancer equipment that should be sent to the devolved referral hospitals in the counties. Brick and mortar will not cure cancer but rather the medical specialists and equipment.

It makes no sense to have cancer specialists in the counties yet there is no equipment. We need to ease pressure on both the KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret.

Mr Robert Makori, the assistant chief nurse at KNH’s cancer treatment centre, says he sees 15 new patients per day, hence 60 patients per week.

Meaning that more than 120 patients come every day for radiotherapy as it is the only referral hospital that is equipped with these machines.

Due to lack of enough resources dedicated to cancer in the country, patients are opting to travel to India to seek further treatment. This means Kenyans continue to incur heavy expenses in medical tourism.

It is expensive to seek treatment in Kenya. More than 90 per cent of cancer patients suffer as they cannot afford the services in public hospitals. This explains the high mortality rate of 28,000 deaths annually.

The government should put effort in promoting early detection and faster referrals, diagnosis and treatment.

The common mwananchi faces a myriad of challenges each and every day, from recognising symptoms and ensuring an early diagnosis to accessing the appropriate treatment.

The National Cancer Institute acting chief executive Alfred Karagu says delayed diagnosis of cancer is one of the biggest concerns.

This is attested by the fact that 70 per cent of people die of cancer because they are diagnosed too late.

His view is that there is need to train nurses and clinical officers at the county level to recognise signs of the killer disease. The few oncologists available in the country are inadequate for the ever increasing cases.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki recently announced that the government cannot declare cancer a national disaster as it lacks clear data on cancer cases in the country. This just shows the poor data management on the government’s part.

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