Kenya government assures cancer patients treatment at low cost

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Stakeholders in the fight against cancer remain optimistic that the country is on the right trajectory amid enhanced efforts to address the health challenge.

Speaking in Naivasha, northwest of Nairobi, at the start of a two day National Cancer stakeholders’ retreat, COG Health committee chair, and also the Kisumu Governor, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said the country has witnessed intensified efforts aimed at addressing the challenge even as he called for more investment and enhanced collaboration with the private sector.

“There is a major role for all of us in placing preventive health as a central Pillar to our health services, cancer included. Let us focus on the new UHC and NHIF and see how they can work together to support primary healthcare to deal conclusively with cancer.” Observed the Kisumu Governor.

He said the majority of those diagnosed with cancer are diagnosed during the late stages of the disease and will require palliative care with just a small percentage accessing requisite care.

In a speech read on his behalf by Nyong’o, health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the government has put in place elaborate mechanisms to deal with the cancer challenge through health service transformation.

This even as he called for concerted efforts, from relevant stakeholders in strengthening the entire health system, from the community to the national referral facilities.

“Cancer control is a wide area in public health programming, which requires interventions at various stages of the cancer control continuum, ranging from prevention and early detection to treatment, survivorship and research,” Said the health CS.

He told the meeting that there was a need to ensure that palliative care is achieved at a lower cost to ensure much of the suffering associated with advanced cancers is controlled even as comprehensive cancer control remains the ideal worthy of striving for.

Speaking at the same forum, County First Ladies Association of Kenya chair Maria Mbeneka, cited inadequate funding, inadequate staff for cancer screening services, inadequate staff training, poor infrastructure as well as lack of information and awareness within communities as some of the challenges facing prevention, treatment and management of cancer in the country.

According to the Chairperson of the KUTRRH Board of Directors, Prof. Olive Mugenda, there was a need to increase the number of cancer specialists in the country to complement ongoing government efforts. Sentiments that were echoed by acting director-general for health Dr Patrick Amoth, in a speech read on his behalf by the head of preventive and promotive health at the ministry of health Dr Andrew Mulwa.

“We also need to appreciate that primary healthcare is the bedrock of our healthcare system, meaning that primary healthcare workers play a critical role in the provision of health services, especially in the area of screening and early diagnosis.” Said Amoth.

The Cancer Taskforce was constituted by the health Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary for Health on 10th May 2021.

The taskforce comprises seven members with Dr Mary Nyangasi and Dr Miriam Mutebi acting as co-chairs. Others are Dr Alfred Karagu who is the taskforce secretary, Dr Loise Nyanjau, Mr Benjamin Inoti and Mr Patrick Mathagu.

It was mandated with reviewing the institutional, policy and legal framework for cancer management in the country, assessing prevailing health system capacity to deliver effective cancer control.

It was also expected to analyse the actors and stakeholders in the cancer eco-system, propose a framework for effective and efficient governance, linkages and collaboration; conduct a scoping review of global best practices in cancer care with a view to recommending policy and clinical reform initiatives for the attainment of the highest standards of cost-effective oncology service delivery for improved patient experiences and outcomes.

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