The County government of Nakuru has announced plans to set up a modern radiology centre on a 4-acre piece of land hived off from the Kenya Medical Training Centre (KMTC).
The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Dr. Zachary Gichuki said, the devolved unit was collaborating with the National government to set up the centre to act as a backup for the oncology complex that has been screening and treating cancer cases since last year.
The Health CEC dispelled claims that the land had been grabbed and allocated to a private developer.
He spoke as scores of slogan chanting students from the medical training facility who were waving twigs and placards laid siege outside the County headquarters demanding to be addressed by Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
The unruly mob which disrupted business along the busy Kenyatta Avenue alleged that the land had been set aside by the Medical Training College for recreational purposes and that no structure should be put up.
Through their leaders Kiboy Nathan and Abdullah Farrah Mohamed, the students claimed that a private developer had invaded the premises and fenced off the piece of land.
However a visibly agitated Health CEC said there had been exhaustive consultations between the newly upgraded Nakuru Level 6-A hospital which is the legal owner of land, the Medical Training College and Ministry of Health before the land was fenced off.
The Health CEC termed the student protests as uncalled for asserting that public participation had been undertaken before the project was conceived.
Dr. Gichuki noted that it was hypocritical for the protestors to take to the streets when the oncology centre was now training medical students from KMTC, Egerton University and Kabarak University.
“This is a public project being conducted by the County and National governments. It was openly advertised in the mass media and is an issue in public domain. Cancer patients can now get quality services at the Nakuru Level 6-A Hospital’s (Previously Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital) new oncology unit due to such upgrades” said Dr. Gichuki.
He said last year’s launch of the oncology unit and the planned construction of the radiology centre were meant to
decongest Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) of the long queues of cancer patients.
A combined contingent of security personnel from regular and administration police kept vigil as the chanting mob vented their fury on the streets of Nakuru.
No ugly incidents were reported as the students eventually dispersed and were escorted back to KMTC campus within the Nakuru Level 6-A hospital after being addressed by Deputy governor, Dr. Eric Korir.
The cancer screening and treatment unit has 10 chemotherapy seats and is manned by an oncologist, a medical officer, a pharmacist, four nurses and a physiotherapist.
The unit has the capacity to serve at least 30 patients. Dr.Gichuki said that in the past four months 2,156 patients have been received at the unit.
He said Kenya has the highest number of cancer-related deaths across East Africa, according to new data by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cancer kills 32,987 Kenyans a year, an estimated 40 per cent of the 83,426 deaths reported in the three East Africa
countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, according to the World Health Organization’s Globocan report that analyses new cases among men and women.
Tanzania comes second with 28,610 cases while Uganda had the least deaths with 21,829 or slightly above 25 per cent of all the cases reported by the three countries.
Efforts to get a comment from KMTC top management proved futile as they did not respond to our enquiries.
Dr.Gichuki said he suspected that the students had been incited to get out onto the streets by ‘hidden hands’.
However, later KMTC Principal, Nicholas Kiptum joined student leaders in a closed door meeting with the Deputy Governor.
By Jane Ngugi/Samuel Njoroge