“What happens to the poor Kenyan who suffers from cancer?” The late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore posed this question during an interview on Citizen TV with Jeff Koinange about him battling blood cancer and its detrimental effects on his health.
“Nobody should die from cancer in this day and age of advanced science,” he added.
Cancer has been indiscriminately robbing away the lives of Kenyans across different age brackets and economic background. So many people will be dying in the world and Kenya for sure due to lack of diagnosis and lack of a cure because they cannot afford the money. Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), show that about 16,953 people died from cancer in 2017.
Kenyatta National Hospital KNH is the largest referral institution has been overburdened with the countless cases of cancer and barely enough equipment to treat patients. The dire need for equipment and specialist doctors in health centres has been amplified by the growing cancer cases, especially among the poor. A bill in the Senate had proposed that all 47 counties set up cancer centres as part of the campaign to tame the spread of the disease and reduce the burden on Kenyatta National Hospital.
To put emphasis on the dire need to fight cancer, the National Assembly Health Committee has deliberated on Cancer Prevention and Control Amendment Bill sponsored by HomaBay Women Representative, Gladys Wanga seeking to compel authorities to make cancer treatment a primary health care. If the Bill is accented into law, cancer treatment and diagnosis will be done at primary health facilities as opposed to specialised levels.
“A component of primary health care is something that we should really emphasize on if this bill goes through. That will mean how we direct our resources within the health sector so that we are having health care workers at that level that are trained and are creating awareness. I think we need to go on a roll with radio, social media,” said Gladys Wanga.
Lack of awareness regarding cancer and late presentation has been the greatest challenge in fighting cancer because primary health centres are not equipped well to make a diagnosis and rarely consider cancer. At the moment the government is conducting retraining of health workers to equip them with the necessary skills required to flag these cases during their early stages right from the centres in the rural areas.