Every effort is being made to rein in cancer
SEE ALSO :Bust those diet and cancer mythsThe number of cancer cases has risen due to ageing populations resulting from improved life expectancy and increasing adoption of risky behaviour such as consumption of unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercise, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco. Infections due to HIV, Human Papilloma Virus, Hepatitis B and C viruses have also contributed significantly to the cancer burden in Africa. It is estimated that 47,887 new cases of cancer are detected annually with about 3,200 new cases among children below 18 years. Some 32,987 people die of cancer annually in Kenya. The increased reported cases of cancer is also attributed to increasing awareness among Kenyans and better diagnostic capacities. Consequently, Kenya has prioritised prevention and control of NCDs as part of its progress towards vision 2030 and launched the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2015-2020 and the National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 as key policy documents. 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.
SEE ALSO :Late diagnosis hurts cancer war - medicsThe Government has set up other strategies to increase manpower in oncology services, investment in equipment and automation of healthcare towards sharing of human resource skills across the country leading to increased access to cancer services and reduced the patient load at the national referral hospitals. Screening for breast cancer is now routinely done through manual palpation at all primary healthcare facilities and that of cervix through visual inspection using a special dye. Mammography services are available in every county referral hospital following implementation of the national government’s Managed Equipment Service project while screening for colorectal cancer is available at Level 5 and 6 facilities. Secondly, treatment services have been decentralised so that detected cases are linked to care. Kenyans are now able to access chemotherapy in seven county referral hospitals in Mombasa, Kisumu, Kakamega, Garissa, Nyeri, Nakuru and Meru. Similar services will soon be available in Embu, Bomet and Machakos hospitals.
Oncology packageOn financing and access, NHIF’s oncology package which covers consultation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy has enabled Kenyans to access cancer treatment in public and private sectors. Sicily Kariuki is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health
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