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Taita-Taveta urged to open cancer treatment unit

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

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