Doctors in Taita-Taveta County have expressed concerns over the rising number of cancer patients in the region after a cancer awareness and screening exercise held at the Moi County Referral Hospital revealed that 11 per cent of residents who showed up for the screening had various forms of cancer.
A cancer specialist, Dr. Juliet Macharia said such screening drives would help the county get actual statistics on
prevalence of the disease in the region.
Speaking during the screening exercise on Thursday, Dr. Macharia said the facility has recorded 49 cases of patients who reported to the cancer hospice at Moi County Hospital on weekly basis for medication and checkups.
“We have a high number of cancer cases that needs to be treated. Currently, all we have is a hospice that treats patients whose cancer is at an advanced stage. We need a unit for cancer patients,” she said.
The cancer screening programme was jointly carried out by doctors from HCGCCK Cancer Centre in Nairobi and health department of Taita-Taveta County. The doctors are pushing for establishment of a cancer care unit at the hospital.
HCGCCK further pledged to train five doctors from the facility on the cancer care and treatment in Nairobi.
Dr. Joseph Asati, an oncologist, from HCGCCK Cancer Centre Nairobi requested the management of the facility to provide a room where chemotherapy sessions can be conducted.
“We are ready to train five doctors on how to handle cancer cases so that they are able to manage cancer incidences from the county,” he said
Dr. Asati noted that such a move would greatly reduce the financial burden for residents who incur heavy expenses while seeking treatment in Nairobi or Mombasa.
The Nominated MCA, Wakesho Mombo, a breast-cancer survivor, urged residents to go for early screening, stating that the disease was curable when detected in the early stage, adding that fears should not prevent them from knowing their cancer status.
“I was afraid of going for checkup but when I did, I was found with cancer. I was treated and by following the doctor’s advice, I am now doing well,” said the MCA.
She urged the county government to support the cancer initiative and provide a room where the equipment and the services on cancer patients would take place.
“I appeal to the county government to provide a room so that chemotherapy equipment and services can be brought close to us, so that patients with cancer can easily get medication within the county without necessarily having to travel to Nairobi or Mombasa,” she said.
About 70 people were screened during the event. Three types of cancer screening were done with women undergoing breast and cervical cancer screening while men had their prostate checked.
The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Daniel Makoko said the county was committed to providing all services that would manage cancer cases in the region.
He added that plans were underway to construct a room where chemotherapy services and other forms of cancer management treatment will be done.
“We are planning on how we can have a unit where cancer patients can be treated,” Makoko said.
By Michael Oduor/Patrick Mwashashu