Plea for more resources to battle cancer

October 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – As the world marks the Breast Cancer Awareness month, medical experts in Kenya are appealing to the government and relevant international organisations to allocate adequate resources for cancer treatment.

In an interview with Capital News, Nairobi Hospital Chief Executive Officer Cleopa Mailu said there are inadequate cancer facilities in the country.

"Even when there is early diagnosis cancer treatment facilities in the country have not been growing. The interventions are not adequate enough to ensure cure or long survival of the cancer suffer," he said.

He said only one public hospital in the entire country has radiotherapy and other cancer treatment facilities which are inadequate to cater for all cancer patients in the country.

According to Dr Mailu, the government has a heavy task of allocating more resources for screening and treatment facilities in public hospitals as many Kenyans cannot afford to go to private hospitals.

He said treating cancer, whether in private or public hospitals, is very expensive for most people. Dr Mailu expressed concern that cancer patients were sometimes forced to dispose of their family assets to afford the treatment.

Insurance companies in most cases also decline to insure cancer patients leaving them to only depend on their income or help from friends and families.

Apart from the costs involved, Dr Mailu also asked the government to strengthen support groups for people diagnosed with cancer.

He said treating was not enough since such patients require a lot of emotional support due to the myths surrounding the disease.

"The support systems which allow one to cope with the disease are still not strong enough because in our mind, when diagnosed with cancer is like we start waiting for when one will pass on. We need to support them to cope with it," he said.

The doctor urged people who can access cancer screening services to go for regular checkups as early detection of cancer can lead to cure depending on the type of cancer one has.

Dr Mailu further asked people to demystify the perception that cancer is a \’death sentence\’.

"Many people have given testimonies that they were cancer patients yet they have lived to a ripe age, the reason being that many of the cancers if detected early it is possible to have interventions which can lead to almost cure of that condition." 

He said awareness of the disease was key in helping people to manage the disease or prevent it from progression.

Dr Mailu was speaking ahead of a cancer march organised by Nairobi Hospital on Saturday in Embu town to raise funds to support the Embu Hospice which caters for people with terminal illnesses.


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