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Experts call for local-based research on cancer

Oncologists are calling on increased uptake and use of locally conducted research to understand causes of cancer in Kenya.

The experts argue that the move will improve care for patients and ultimately reduce the disease burden in the country.

The oncologist  who were attending the international cancer conference organized by Kenya Society of Haematology and Oncology (KESHO) in Nairobi are advocating for home-grown solutions driven by cancer research and best practices.

They are calling for increased access to information among patients and clinicians alertness to aid in early detection of cancer cases.

Speaking at the end of the three day conference last evening, Dr Mohammed Abdi Kuti, the Governor of Isiolo County said through research, cancer experts can best understand what ails the community, the prevalent areas and devise counter measures to reduce new cancer incidents, improve timely diagnosis, treatment and ultimately increase survivorship.

“In Kenya, it is expected that we will have 47,000 new cases in 2018. Out of these, 70 per cent will succumb to the disease. This clearly indicates that cancer has become a cause of premature deaths.

If we are to reduce these numbers, research comes in handy”, Kuti who is also the Chairman of the Council of Governors Health and Biotechnology Committee said.

GLOBOCAN surveys reveals that that out of the expected 9.6 million cancer deaths in 2018, about 80 percent will occur in low and middle income countries.

Dr Sitna Mwanzi, Chairperson of  KESHO and a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Aga Khan University Hospital said that over the years African countries have heavily relied on cancer research conducted in the European world to treat their patients locally.

This sometimes Dr. Mwanzi said is not applicable due to the social-economic status, availability of cancer treatment and screening facilities among other factors.

“Cancer control research seeks to identify and evaluate the means of reducing the cancer morbidity and mortality and improving the quality of life of people living with, recovering from or dying of cancer” she said.

Knowing what our cancer statistics are and the underlying risks factors for disease, Dr. Mwanzi added we will be able to develop interventions that are suitable to our setting as well as policies that will help facilitate cancer control.

The three-day conference was attended by over 250 delegates of different specialties including, cancer experts, physicians, cancer nurses, radiation therapy technologists, cancer support groups among other cancer networks.

Kenya Society of Haematology and Oncology is an organization founded by oncologists and allied healthcare providers to provide physicians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and blood disorders with a forum to discuss ideas for purposes of improving practice outcomes.

The theme for this year’s conference was Integrating Research and Practice.

By  Wangari Ndirangu

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