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Gov’t determined to decentralize cancer services to its citizens

The government has stepped up to bring cancer services to the grassroots level for the ordinary citizen to benefit and to cut the need to travel abroad for those services.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that Kenyans used to go abroad and would spend billions but now there is no need as we have quality doctors and facilities that can treat people.

Speaking at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital (CGTRH) in Mombasa, Kagwe said that as the world celebrates World Cancer Day, Kenyans have a reason to celebrate and appreciate the milestone the country has made in terms of ensuring universal health care service to all.

“Since the year 2000 when this day was decided upon, it has always been done in Nairobi, and this is the first time we are doing it in Mombasa. This is the appropriate time to be here, this year’s theme is “Closing the service gap”. We celebrate this day because of the survivors, and I want to congratulate all those that work in this world of cancer to ensure our people are treated,” he said.

He added that under the Universal Health Cover, access to health care have been witnessed as first-hand access to health is evident through stories by Cancer survivors on how they used to travel to India for treatment, but now, treatment is within reach in the country, even at local level such as the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The CS noted that, in terms of affordable health care, one can come to CGHR without selling their cows or a piece of land but only with National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and get treated.

“Let’s be happy and appreciate these good things being done. We can see it here but it is not enough. The people are going to be charged with the responsibility of the equipment placed here,” said Kagwe.

He said the ministry has been conducting training of 6, 000 people under the Oncologist cadre through a virtual facility.

He noted that, at least 42, 000 people are infected by cancer almost every year, of which 27,000 people are lost.

“Cancer is the third killer in our nation, after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. We must ensure that we reduce the number of persons that we lose to cancer, but it is not just the illness, it is the psychological impact of the family that is brought about by this killer disease, through the facilities that we have and the focus that we have put in place, we know this will be a thing of the past,” he added.

Kagwe lauded the government for the commissioning of the Integrating Molecular Center at Kenyatta International Hospital, saying it is one of the rarest in the country.

“Those of us in leadership must appreciate that we are human beings and we should prepare ourselves that one day we can move to government hospitals confidently and get treated,” said Kagwe.

He however urged people to also take responsibility and go for checkups with young girls getting vaccinated.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho asked for a continued collaboration between the national and county governments so that they can deliver more quality services to Kenyans.

“We have a responsibility as leaders to do what needs to be done. Following the narratives from cancer survivors, we need to celebrate this day not because of the disease but because we can survive cancer,” he said.

The governor said that in terms of health, the county has transformed a lot and made a milestone with the CGTRH providing quality health care.

By Chari Suche

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