The County Government of Kisumu has embarked on construction of a Sh1 billion comprehensive cancer center to offer cutting edge cancer treatment to patients in the area.
The center domiciled at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) will offer high quality oncology, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and palliative care services.
Speaking at the hospital Friday during the ground breaking ceremony for the center, Kisumu County Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o said cancer cases in the area and the country at large were on the rise.
“Cancer remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country with 40,000 new cases being reported annually,” he said.
An estimated 28,000 people, he added, die of cancer in the country annually with majority of those suffering from the disease unable to access treatment.
The comprehensive cancer center will help reduce the burden of patients in the area, with more efforts being directed towards screening and early prevention.
Prof. Nyong’o disclosed that Sh350 million has already been allocated for the first phase of the project which is expected to be completed within the next two years.
This includes construction and equipping of an ultra modern radio therapy center which will make JOOTRH the second public health referral hospital in the country to offer radiotherapy services.
Currently the services are only available at Kenyatta National Hospital which is unable to cope with the high number of patients on radiotherapy.
Once fully operational, the centre will become the premier oncology management facility in western Kenya and reduce the burden for patients travelling to Nairobi and outside the country to seek services.
The governor also opened a Sickle Cell anemia clinic at the hospital, which he said will help manage the high number of cases of the disease being reported in the area.
He noted that 17-21 per cent of children out of 100 in the area are born carrying sickle cell strains, adding that through the clinic they will be tested and immediately put on medication.
This new development comes at a time Kisumu is piloting the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program alongside Nyeri, Machakos and Isiolo counties.
Meanwhile, the County is investing in primary and preventive health through support from Community Health Workers (CHWs).
“We are going to train the CHWs and give them kits to report on early signs of some of these diseases including cancer so that patients are advised to seek early treatment,” the governor said.
And to make UHC work, the county government will continue to invest in human resource, equipment and infrastructure.
Accordingly, a 64 slide CT scan machine, MRI machines and an ISO certified laboratory have already been installed at JOOTRH, with the governor adding that Sh130 million has been put into renovating the facility.
Acting County Executive Committee Member in charge of Health Nerry Achar said the centre will also benefit the Kenya Medical Training College Kisumu campus which is expected to start offering programmes in oncology.
Additionally, the sickle cell clinic will pave way for formulation of a policy that will entrench the disease among those covered under the UHC programme.
Achar said the facility will offer immense benefits to researchers and in turn impact positively on the local economy through medical tourism.
By Mercy Melly and Chris Mahandara