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Cancer burden could cripple economy – CS Kagwe


Experts install a Linear Accelerator at the Radiology Center at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The cancer burden will continue to increase in the coming days due to the ageing population and lifestyle changes.

This has been worsened by the transition from infectious conditions to Non-Communicable Diseases amid calls to increase the number of oncologists.

Data from the Health Ministry shows the country loses 27,000 people to cancer each year.

Some 42,000 new cases are reported every year. Last year, 6,800 cases of breast cancer were reported, followed by cervical cancer (5,200) and prostate cancer (3,000).

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe last week said the cancer burden together with other NCDs could cripple Kenya’s economic prospects.

“The government has invested billions of shillings into centres across the country. All we require is the human resource,” he said at the end of the National Cancer Stakeholders retreat in Naivasha.

The CS said cancer is Kenya's leading cause of catastrophic health expenditure.

“Cancer is the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases, accounting for approximately 10 per cent of all disease mortalities,” he said.

The CS said some of the initiatives to reduce the cases include a global strategy to eliminate the cancer of the cervix, breast and childhood cases.

“Approximately seven out of 10 cancer patients are diagnosed at late stages when treatment outcomes are poor. This has adverse effects on treatment while the cost of care is high,” he said.

The CS called for the strengthening of the health system, from the community to the national referral facilities. 

“It’s our duty as stakeholders in the cancer control ecosystem to ensure Kenyans derive maximum benefit from the Universal Healthcare Coverage programmes,” he said.

NHIF chief executive Dr Peter Kamunyo denied they ignored cancer patients, saying there are several packages for such patients.

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