Cancer patients in Nandi County can now sigh with relief after a new oncology unit was opened at the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital (KCRH).
The four bed capacity unit will see the patients get their doses of chemotherapy, have reviews and treatment at the facility.
“This is a milestone for the patients who have had to travel up to the Chandaria Cancer Centre in Eldoret for cancer treatment and care,” said Dr Patrick Kenei an Oncologist at KCRH.
“We have started on the right footing because we have the structure to administer chemo and also trained personnel to handle cancer patients” he said.
Kenei said that the unit has trained personnel who are needed to serve cancer patients including; one trained clinical family physician who has undergone fellowship in oncology, two clinical officers trained in medical oncology, two gynecologists and three oncology nurses.
“We have the requisite capacity to administer to the patients. Once we receive them we are able to diagnose, stage and treat them,” explained Kenei.
According to Kenei the most common types of cancers in Nandi are Prostrate, Cervical, breast, esophageal, and colorectal (colon cancer).
“On average we get to see ten patients per week. Those visiting for the first time and the ones we diagnose from our other facilities and are referred to KCRH,” states Kenei.
The oncologist points out that the leading cancer in women is cervical while in men is prostate adding that the facility attends to 20 and 15 cases per week respectively.
Other than treatment he said the patients also receive psychosocial support and palliative care especially those on late stages of cancer.
Kapsabet County Referral Hospital works in collaboration with the International Cancer Institute to build capacity for cancer care and treatment.
The institute has helped train staff who give cancer care, two pharmaceutical technologists who are able to give chemo, one pathologist and cytologist thus able to pick biopsy and make the right diagnosis.
Besides the KCRH unit, the personnel also carry outreach clinics and screening at the sub counties to sensitize residents on how to control cancer.
The oncologist is appealing to NHIF to accredit the unit so that cancer patients get NHIF cover for ease of access to cancer treatment.
“Cancer treatment is quite expensive from diagnosis, staging and treatment. Without a cover most of our patients will not be able to afford,” he said.
Kenei further thanked the national government for procuring a radiotherapy machine stationed at the Moi Teaching Referral Hospital that has helped cancer patients from the region who previously had to travel to the Kenyatta National Hospital for treatment.
According to the National Cancer Control Strategy (2018-2022), Cancer is the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.
The main causes being a combination of unhealthy dietary habits, consumption of tobacco and alcohol and lack of physical exercise.
The government through the ministry of health has launched a number of strategies to combat the disease, one of it being a nationwide lifestyle modification campaign to increase awareness about cancer and improving access to cancer care.
By Bethsheba Abuya and Maureen Mwangi