Cultural beliefs are a major hindrance preventing majority of Uasin Gishu County residents from seeking cancer screening services.
According to Mediheal Group of Hospitals Chief Nurse Joseph Oroni, majority of the residents avoid cancer screening because it involves touching sensitive parts of their bodies, which they deemed intrusive to their privacy.
Accordingly, those who avoid the screening claim that it was culturally inappropriate and unacceptable to touch some parts of their bodies.
“These are some cultural beliefs barring residents from early diagnosis of cancer,” said Oroni.
Meanwhile, statistics from privately owned Mediheal Group of Hospitals, the second largest cancer centre in Uasin Gishu after the state owned Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), indicates that only about 135 people seek cancer screening every month.
Cancer, the third cause of deaths in the country currently is caused by various factors including genetic factors, lifestyle factors such as eating processed foods with a lot of additives, environmental factors such as exposure to harmful chemicals and radiation and abuse of drugs like cigarettes as well as compromised immune system as a result of old age.
On the other hand, a cancer researcher, Rebecca Kimeli of the Rebecca Cancer Foundation, said most people in the region do not seek cancer screening and treatment services because they believe that cancer was ‘witchcraft’ and instead resort to traditional treatment using herbs.
“This often results in late diagnosis, often when the patient is already at stage 3 or 4 by the time they seek medical services,” she added.
Other impediments hampering tackling of the disease that has impoverished families include high cost of treatment, poverty, inadequate facilities in cancer centers and lack of general public awareness.
Consequently, Kimeli is calling for sensitization of residents in rural households on the importance of cancer screening and the need for treatment.
“There is need for cancer screening to be made available at primary healthcare facilities such as Level 1 hospitals to ensure that residents receive appropriate services during the early stages of cancer that provides a better chance of surviving the disease,” she said.
However, the county director for Health Dr. Reuben Korir said the devolved unit has allocated adequate funds specifically for cancer awareness.
He urged residents to go for cancer screening and also enroll with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover to enable them access treatment affordably.
By KNA Team