The Ministry of Health has been challenged to collect accurate data on all Kenyans suffering from cancer.
Three governors’ spouses, Maria Mbeneka (Laikipia), Nazi Kivutha (Makueni), and Dorothy Nyong’o (Kisumu) observed that if the data on all people suffering from cancer was captured correctly, the country would be able to control the scourge, now emerging as a fast killer.
Speaking on Monday when they toured the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital, the trio under the auspices of the African Cancer Foundation regretted that information on cancer countrywide was conspicuously missing in key government strategic papers such as the statistical abstract and the economic survey.
“Without accurate data on cancer, the government will not be in a position to effectively manage cancer as it ought to, but will be applying knee jerk reaction when things get out of hand,” Mbeneka said.
Early this month, Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Sicily Kariuki said that the government could not declare cancer as a national disaster since there was no sufficient data to show the extent it had affected Kenyans.
Mrs. Kivutha who is also the chair of the Counties First ladies Association said that they had embarked on carrying out a needs assessment on all county referral hospitals to find out how they are able to cope with the menace, with a view to lobbying for more resources to effectively manage the disease.
She added that they were also emphasizing on the need for health facilities to offer nutritional advice not only to cancer patients but also to the general public since unhealthy diets are believed to be a bigger contributor to the spread of the disease.
On her part, Mrs. Nyong’o said that increased awareness and early screening would go a long way in reducing the number of Kenyans dying of cancer.
“We believe that early detection saves lives and also it’s more cost-effective to manage the condition when it’s detected early and a cure can be promised. Cancer is not a death sentence if detected early,” she said.
The County acting Chief Officer for Health, Dr. Donald Mogoi said Laikipia had scaled up cancer screening and awareness as it was entrenched in the Universal Health Care (UHC) which was being rolled out in the region.
“We believe the devolved unit can manage cancer better if we start from the community level and scale it up through to the health facilities,” Dr. Mogoi said.
By Martin Munyi