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MPs petitioned to provide affordable cancer care

Health & Science

A petitioner is seeking the intervention of the National Assembly in the provision of affordable health care to cancer patients and survivors.

Muriungi Mburung’a, whose wife is a cancer survivor, wants the National Assembly to amend the Cancer Act 2012, to promote access to quality and affordable diagnostic treatment services to persons with cancer, including the provision of free artificial breasts to women who have undergone mastectomy.

Mr Mburung’a also wants the House to exempt all cancer survivors from paying tax and outlaw any negative reference to cancer patients.

“Cancer patients and survivors are tortured emotionally and psychologically everyday by citizens of this country. Their feelings are disregarded mostly by the political class during rallies, judges, religious leaders and our media,” said Mburung’a.

“It is very normal and common for any leader to compare insecurity to cancer, corruption to cancer, bad governance to cancer, tribalism to cancer, poverty to cancer...To this extent, I petition the National Assembly to enact a law to bar and outlaw any comparison of negative issues, habits or behaviour to cancer. That anyone who compares cancer to negative things be jailed, fined or performs probation community service as deemed fit by the National Assembly,” the petition reads.

The petition has already been received by the Clerk’s office and is currently undergoing scrutiny by the National Assembly’s Legal Department before it is formally tabled in the House.

 Patients’ rights

Access to cancer treatment in the county has been a source of concern both for patients and health professionals and although the Government and cancer campaigners have in recent years managed to shine the spotlight on the conditions of cancer patients, knee jerk efforts in dealing with the stigma and cost of treatment have offered little consolation to thousands of patients countrywide.

The petitioner argues that the rights of cancer patients have been ignored overtime and the intervention of the National Assembly will be first step in alleviating the situation.

He says while treatment for other ailments such as malaria and HIV and Aids are free, there is little effort in creating similar conditions for cancer patients and survivors who need long-term care.

“Despite recognition of the current cancer situation in the country by the national government and most county governments, little has been done to fully implement the Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012. Cancer patients and survivors’ rights have been infringed over time.

“My wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, which cost us Sh7 million. It made me wonder how many people can afford that. I have seen patients use their pension to access treatment. I hope that the House will interrogate this matter,” the petitioner says.

The Cancer Prevention and Control Act was enacted in 2012 and proposes the establishment of a National Cancer Institute whose objective will be to come up with overall national agenda for the treatment and management of cancer countrywide

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