The government is investing more in cancer research and putting up more health facilities to ensure that Kenyans have close access to health facilities in a move aimed at reducing cancer burden in the country.
Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said that in Nairobi County alone, the government has already put up 19 new health facilities with six more being rehabilitated and was currently working towards delivering on the President’s directive to build an additional 50 facilities in different parts of the country.
Noting that cancer prevalence at the community level was rising by day, the CS called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the fight against cancer adding that if unchecked, the cancer burden could cripple Kenya’s economic prospects further hindering the achievement of Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.
He said the Ministry of Health established the National Cancer Taskforce in 2021, as a measure to enhance cancer control and management in the country adding that the taskforce has embarked on the process of reviewing the institutional framework for cancer management, assessing cancer human resources, health products, technologies and infrastructure in addition to reviewing existing legislation and policies on cancer prevention and providing strategic recommendations.
According to Kagwe, the taskforce was also tasked with analyzing stakeholders and actors in the cancer ecosystem, propose an effective governance and coordination framework and recommend strategic interventions for resource mobilization for effective implementation of the identified cancer control interventions.
In a speech read by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o during the National Cancer Retreat Stakeholders meeting in Naivasha, the CS said that the newly launched Universal Health Coverage presents an enhanced ground for creating awareness on cancer prevention, enhanced screening, early diagnosis and treatment access.
Kagwe noted that cancer accounted for approximately 10 percent of all disease mortalities in Kenya.
The minister said the government is also aligning its cancer control framework to the various global initiatives on cancer control including elimination of cervical cancer as a health problem, the global breast and childhood cancers initiatives among others.
Kagwe at the same time said the government is working to tap emerging technologies in cancer management and ensuring that cancer research is embedded in the various established cancer centres while ensuring that palliative care is achieved at a lower cost as provided under the National Palliative Care Policy framework (2021 – 2030).
According to Dr Alfred Karagu of the Cancer Institute of Kenya, cancer is a major menace in Kenya with 42,000 new cancer cases and 27,000 deaths reported every year but he was quick to note that most deaths could be averted on early screening and diagnosis.
Karagu said that the leading types of cancer that accounted for more than 70 percent of cases in the country were breast, cervical, prostate, esophageal and colon cancers. He added that the leading causes of cancer cases were lifestyle changes, obesity, advanced age and late diagnosis.
By Esther Mwangi and Erastus Gichohi