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Go for early cancer screening, Kenyans urged

The Task force on Cancer management has asked Kenyans to turn out for early cancer screening instead of waiting until they are sick and admitted to hospitals.

The taskforce said it’s time for the change because cancer is appearing in young adults thus early diagnosis will help in treating the disease.

Members of The National Cancer Task Force addressing the media after it convened a public participation forum on cancer awareness together with The Kenya Red Cross at Koblenz hall, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga

In a statement with the media in Mombasa County, the taskforce said that breast cancer is one of the country’s leading cancer killers, claiming about 6,700 lives a year.

Cervical cancer follows with 5,200 deaths annually, followed by esophagus, prostate and colon cancer, respectively.

At least 27,000 Kenyans succumb to the disease annually, according to a report relayed by the task force.

Alfred Kiragu, CEO National Cancer Institute of Kenya lamented over the low turnout of cancer screening.

“According to statistics by the Ministry of Health, it is the third in the rank of high mortality diseases in Kenya followed by infectious diseases,” said Kiragu.

Miriam Mutebi, a Co-chair of the National Cancer Task force said that there is need for sensitizing the public on the disease and removing the belief that cancer is a death sentence.

“Most people fear going for screening because of the stigma in the society that when you are diagnosed with cancer then you are nearing the coffin. This mentality needs to be scrapped,” said Mutebi.

Mutebi stressed on the forming of innovative solutions on how the government can tackle the disease saying the data collected at the grassroots has helped the team prepare on how they can deal with the realities of those suffering from Cancer.

“From what we have found, patients do not finish their treatment, there is also late diagnosis. There is a need to strengthen the ability of our primary health care givers to do early screening. We also call for restructuring of the best approaches that can help us give support to cancer patients both financially and morale,” she said.

Participants during cancer awareness event at Koblenz hall, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga

Mutebi said the taskforce will write a report to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on what they gathered and their proposed recommendations for action, promising a ray of hope to cancer patients in the country.

Saum Mbaraq, a cervical cancer survivor, expressed emotions of how tough her journey was after being diagnosed with cancer.

Mbaraq told KNA that she was sick for almost three years and what her biggest challenge was, access to information about the disease.

“After being found with cancer, I was left stranded not knowing what to do or where to go for treatment. However, I thank God I got health at Coast General Hospital through my friend who referred me to a private organization that supports cancer patients. I want to tell those with the disease to take heart and know just like me, they can survive cancer,” she said.

By Chari Suche

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