Mercy Steps Cancer Foundation in conjunction with the Meru Hospice has donated 200 breast prostheses to Meru County women who lost crucial parts through cancer.
The event that was held at the Meru Hospice grounds in Meru town was graced by the County First Lady Ms Priscilla Murungi who emphasised the need for residents to visit the cancer centre located at Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital for screening.
Through her Twaweza initiative, Ms Murungi promised to resume the cancer screening campaigns throughout the county after they were halted due to Covid-19.
“Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had traversed various corners of the county where we sensitised residents on the need for cancer screening and the events were very effective. We will soon be resuming the same to ensure our people are safe from the disease,” she said.
She said the campaigns had seen an increasing number of people who turned up for treatment at the cancer centre as well as those who visited Meru Hospice for palliative care.
“In the year 2019, 2,000 women visited the cancer centre, a number that doubled up to 4,000 in the year 2020. In 2021 we had 4,500 patients who visited the centre and the increasing number can be attributed to the awareness campaigns,” she said.
Meru Hospice’s Palliative Care provider Ms Gladys Nyokabi said the facility was very crucial to cancer patients within and out of Meru County.
Apart from palliative care, Ms Nyokabi added, the facility that serves around 140 patients in a month also conducts short courses on palliative care both for health and non-healthcare professionals. The hospice also runs a HIV counselling and testing service.
“We have seen about 6,000 patients since 2003. So far, we have 470 active patients among whom we have 11 children with various types of cancer,” she said.
She said the hospice also offers colostomy bags, wheelchairs, bed pants, and leg prostheses to patients.
Ms Nyokabi said the Mercy Steps Cancer Foundation whose Kenyan Founder is based in Switzerland has many breasts prostheses in store but they were facing the challenge of importing them to the country due to heavy taxation.
“We are calling on the government to waive the tax so we can move the prosthesis to the country and benefit more women who have had their breasts removed due to cancer,” she said.
The County Health Chief Officer Dr James Kirimi said the prosthesis will play a key role in raising the survivors’ self-esteem as well as restoring their dignity especially after losing a crucial part of their body.
By Dickson Mwiti