NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) spent Sh1.36 billion in the financial year 2017/ 2018 as payment towards treatment for cancer, an increase of 11 per cent from Sh1.23 billion spent within the same period in the previous year.
The Fund latest utilization report indicates that in the last five years, NHIF has steadily increased its care benefit packages from two to over ten percent.
Data from Afya Smiles Kenya, a premier health website, estimates the costs of chemotherapy to be between Sh10, 000 and Sh82, 000 per session in a public hospital, and Sh35,000 to Sh500,000 per session in private hospitals.
Currently, the NHIF care package entails up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anti-cancers drugs, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 sessions for radiotherapy, and up to two sessions for Brachytherapy for advanced cancer, per year.
NHIF covers six sessions for the first line treatment for up to Sh25,000 per session, four sessions for the second and third line treatment for up to Sh150,000 per session and 20 sessions of radiotherapy at Sh3,600 per session.
Biopsy is covered under the surgical package. Radiology is also done during the diagnosis stage, and this includes MRIs, ultrasounds, or CT scan and PET scan, also covered by NHIF.
Data from the Kenya Cancer network estimates that there are 40,000 new cases of cancer each year, with more than 27,000 deaths per year in Kenya.
The network estimates that about 60 percent of those affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old. The leading cancers in women are breast and cervical, while among men, prostate and oesophagal cancers are most prominent.
A 2018 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that prostate cancer deaths in Kenya stood at 2,309 or 0.82 percent of total deaths, a death rate of 32.72 per 100,000, ranking the country at number 24 in the world.
Cervical cancer deaths in the country were recorded at 2,706, which is 0.96 percent of total deaths.
The report put the death rate at 23.39 per 100,000, ranking the country at position 19 in the world.
The NHIF Oncology Cancer treatment package is one of the packages which has seen thousands of families save millions of shillings in hospital bills both in Kenya and abroad, given that cancer is one of the most expensive diseases to treat.