Gov’t in Sh21b Bid to Improve Cancer Treatment
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced that the equipment purchased will be supplied to other hospitals based in Kisumu, Kakamega, Eldoret and Mombasa.
Speaking after officiating the donation of over 80 special beds for the new maternity wing at Igegania Hospital in Gatundu North, Macharia said the country's health system had been improving steadily, saying the government has put enough medicine in all hospitals at no cost to the mwananchi.
Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) is the only cancer treatment facility in the public health system and charges Sh500 per session.
The others at MP Shah, Aga Khan and Nairobi Hospitals charge an average of Sh10,000 per session and are way out of the reach of ordinary people.
Management of cancer is a national scandal.
KNH and cancer awareness organisations estimate that about 40,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed every year, with 27,000 deaths, possibly due to inadequate treatment.
Kenya has four radiation centres for the treatment of cancer, all of them in Nairobi and all but one in private hospitals.
According to the Economic Survey of 2013, in 2012, cancer was the leading cause of death in Nyanza, claiming 2,092 lives, Central Kenya (1,993), Western (1,985), South Rift (1,297), North Rift (1,044) and Coast (859).
None of these regions have radiotherapy machines. Significantly, it was also the second leading cause of death in Nairobi, Eastern and North Eastern regions after tuberculosis.
Although there have been effective campaigns to educate the public about how to seek treatment for diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, both by the government and NGOs’ public campaigns on cancer have been less successful.
By Tom Omulo.
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