NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 9 – A chemotherapy Center was on Monday unveiled at the Longisa County Referral Hospital, Bomet County, becoming one of the ten county chemotherapy units that the Ministry of Health (MoH) is setting up in a bid to decentralize cancer management services in line with the National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, in officiating the event, noted that the launch of the center was informed by the high burden of esophageal cancer in Bomet and other surrounding counties in the South Rift Valley region.
Esophageal, prostate, stomach, colorectal and cervical cancers respectively, make up some of the top five cancers in the county.
“The aim of the cancer strategy is to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, mortality through prevention, screening and early detection, effective partnerships in diagnostics, treatment, palliation, financing, setting up cancer registries and research,” Kariuki said.
The CS further highlighted that every two weeks, Oncologists from Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) will be sent to review patients and mentor the local team to be able to provide health services.
“In order to enhance access to oncology services for patients coming to this unit, the CS directed the local National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) branch to ensure there is timely approval of pre-authorization requests for chemotherapy services.”
“On financing and access, the NHIF’s oncology package, which covers consultation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, has enabled Kenyans to access cancer treatment in public and private sectors,” she added.
Moreover, the Ministry of Health has facilitated a team of four officers from Longisa County Referral Hospital to attend training on the safe use of chemotherapy at MTRH.
Other facilities issued to support the chemotherapy unit include ten chemotherapy chairs, one bio-safety cabinet, a chemotherapy drugs starter pack and the requisite training.
Statistics from the MoH indicate that an estimated 47,887 new cases of cancer are detected, and 32,987 people die annually nationwide.
It is further approximated that there are 3,200 new cancer cases among children below 18 years every year.
According to CS Kariuki, the increased reporting of cancer cases is due to upscaled awareness among Kenyans and better diagnostic capacities in public health centres.
“As you are all aware cancer and indeed other non-communicable diseases have continued to be an issue of great public health concern in Kenya.”
The Ministry has prioritized cancer awareness creation since the inauguration of the National Cancer Institute board last month.
The board was mandated to launch a nation-wide lifestyle modification campaign that will reach Kenyans right where they are and to mobilize all stakeholders.
The launch of the cancer centre in Longisa is in fulfillment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promise to Bomet Governor the late Joyce Laboso who succumbed to Colon Cancer in July.