Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Modern Cancer Screening Centre unveiled in Kitui County

Kitui County Government has opened a modern cancer care centre at Kitui County referral hospital in efforts to boost the ongoing countywide fight against the killer disease, Cancer.

The fully furnished Cancer care centre will be able to provide the much-needed health care service, specially to increasing number of Breast and Cervical Cancer patients.

Kitui County Governor Dr. Julius Malombe while speaking during the official opening of the facility with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment, noted that the cancer care centre will help to address gaps in cancer and palliative care for breast and cervical cancer patients.

“This full-service cancer care set up here at the Kitui County Referral Hospital is a milestone achievement for our women and girls of reproductive age, as they can be able to access pre-cancer screenings and chemotherapy, as well as other cancer care and palliative care services,” said the governor in his speech delivered on his behalf by his deputy, Augustine Wambua Kanani.

The governor termed the cancer centre as a symbol of the county government’s dedication to the health and well-being of Kitui County residents.

“The establishment of this cancer centre signifies our commitment to our collective fight against cancer and providing hope and support to those battling this formidable foe.

This facility stands as a beacon of hope, offering state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services. Our residents will no longer endure long and arduous journeys to seek essential medical care as the cancer centre brings these vital services closer to home,” Dr Malombe said.

He recalled that World Health Organisation’s statistics indicate that there is a continuous growth in the cancer burden globally, with 19.3 million new cases and 10 million cancer deaths being recorded in 2020.

“Out of the 10 million deaths recorded, 70% occurred in low and middle-income countries where resources for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are either non-existent or in limited supply.

In Africa, 1.1 million new cases and over 700,000 deaths were recorded in 2020, and in the same year, Kenya recorded over 40,000 new cases, with breast, cervical, and prostate cancer being the most common,” said the Governor.

He disclosed that Kitui County has recorded an upward trend of new cancer cases since 2018 up to date, with a total of 958 cases reported.

“Of these cases, cervix, breast, and prostate cancers are the most prevalent.

However, our story does not have to be gloomy, as cancer is curable if detected early,” he added while urging residents to embrace regular cancer screening for early detection and treatment to save lives.

The deputy governor also took pride in the fact that Kitui has adopted telemedicine, which has turned the world into a global village by linking specialists and patients in different parts of the world in endeavours to offer cutting-edge medical services to the communities.

“Today, we celebrate the adoption of this technology through the use of the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) programme. The county, in partnership with CMMB through this technology, has linked all 14 Level IV hospitals in Kitui and will equally link the cancer centre to national, regional, and global centres of excellence,” he explained.

He further affirmed the county administration’s endeavor to ensure the sustainability of the cancer center through the availability of specialized officers, the allocation of funds for daily operations, and the procurement of drugs and medical supplies.

The Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) President, Mary Beth Powers, while speaking during the opening of the cancer care centre ceremony, encouraged people to go for screenings often to help detect cancer earlier and provide timely treatment too.

“Cancer is not a death sentence, if anything to go by the dozens of testimonies that we have all heard from our survivors here,” she said.

She further committed to the CMMB’s goal of improving healthier lives worldwide, harnessing Kitui’s fertile ground for partnership.

Other partners who collaborated in the implementation of the cancer care centre included the National Cancer Institute of Kenya as a technical partner through the accreditation processes, CMMB as the implementing agency and the Kitui County Government as the recipient of the support.

Other development partners who jointly supported the cancer care centre included a grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.

Medical records indicate that in Kenya, breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer, and while cervical cancer is easily detectable and curable in the early stages, only 16.4% of women aged 30–49 years have ever been screened.

The records further report that in Kitui County, cervical cancer accounts for nearly a quarter of all cancer cases among women.

Women from low socio-economic backgrounds and underserved areas are unable to access early detection, diagnosis, and advanced cancer care.

Vaccination against HPV and both screening and treatment of pre-cancer lesions are some of the cost-effective ways to prevent cervical cancer, which can also be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly.

For over 20 years, CMMB Kenya has saved lives by promoting healthy futures for families. Its integrated rural health programmes address breast and cervical cancers, HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal and child health, and TB. In addition, CMMB’s work contributes to strengthening Kenyan health systems and staff skills.

The Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) provides long-term medical and development aid to local communities affected by poverty and unequal access to healthcare.

The new cancer centre is expected to significantly bolster the region’s healthcare capabilities, offering advanced diagnostics, treatment, and support services for cancer patients. This development aligns with global efforts to enhance cancer care accessibility, ensuring that communities have the resources needed to combat this pervasive health challenge.

The inauguration of the cancer centre reinforces the county’s commitment to advancing healthcare and underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in building a healthier and more resilient community.

In the wake of the availability of cancer health care services, Kitui County sets a commendable example for other regions, demonstrating the positive impact that focused initiatives and community involvement can have on healthcare outcomes. As the Phangisile Mtshali Cancer Centre begins its operations, it is poised to become a beacon of hope and healing for Kitui County and beyond.

By Denson Mututo

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