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Prioritise cancer management in public hospitals

By Alexander Chagema | Published Tue, February 6th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 5th 2018 at 23:46 GMT +3

The mention of cancer sends chills down the spine of anyone diagnosed with the same. Over time, cancer has been considered a terminal disease, a death sentence to those who bear its burden. Indeed, cancer has claimed a lot of lives, but recent scientific advances offer hope. There has been change in how the disease is being managed; from reactionary, when it is too late to treat it to preventive, with emphasis on healthy living and going for medical checks periodically.

Doctors have determined that cancer is manageable if discovered early. The Kenyan tragedy, however, is that diagnosis is often made when it is too late. Sadly, this occasions an estimated 25000 deaths annually from an infection rate of 40000 cases annually. The 2017 Economic Survey determined that 15,762 people succumbed to cancer in 2016.

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These grim statistics should worry us. It is pertinent to ask what the Sh38 billion medical equipment scheme between the County and National governments has achieved towards alleviating the suffering of patients. Reports of long queues on the waiting lists at, particularly, Kenyatta National Hospital are not reassuring.

Most of the diagnostic machines are said to have broken down and there are no spares for them. In some cases, there is lack of trained personnel to manage the sophisticated medical equipment. Bearing the brunt of all this is the common man who cannot foot the prohibitive cost of treating cancer in high end private medical facilities. There is need to make cancer bearable for Kenyan families.