NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 10 – At least 22,000 people died of various cancers in Kenya last year out of the 28,000 reported cases, according to government statistics.
President Mwai Kibaki said on Tuesday that this was because 80 percent of the patients were diagnosed when the cancers were at an advanced stage and minimal intervention could be done.
Speaking when he opened the Oncology and Cancer Treatment Centre at the Nairobi Hospital, the President said the government was seeking to increase access to cancer screening and treatment at affordable costs in county level.
“What is important is not for anyone to keep crying about how cancer is spreading, it is just to join in spreading the centres for treatment because in the final analysis that is the only answer,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State noted that the incidences of cancer in the country were increasing at an alarming rate with breast, cervical and prostate cancer being the most common cancers in Kenya.
“I urge Kenyans to regularly undergo screening that may detect cancer early. Self examination especially for symptoms of breast cancer should be widely encouraged,” he advised.
He said the government was working on modalities of establishing cancer centres outside Nairobi so as to enhance reach of services for the larger population in the rural areas.
“But I wish to challenge our researchers to undertake more work on cancer in our country,” President Kibaki appealed.
Nairobi hospital Chief Executive Officer Cleophas Mailu said the hospital was working on decentralising its services.
“We intend at any cost to take services to Nanyuki, Mombasa, Kisumu and Lamu amongst other towns in the country,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o called on the President to assent to the recently passed Cancer Prevention and Control Bill.
Nyong’o said the Bill was important because it provided a policy framework for diagnosis, treatment and control of cancers.
He said early detection of cancers would help improve treatment and cure.
“The draft bill on cancer treatment and control passed by parliament recently, I have been informed very reliably by the Attorney General that it is on your desk your Excellency and I am sure that great green pen will very soon put a signature to it,” Nyong’o told the President.
The Minister noted that inadequate funds were still a drawback for the government in putting up modern cancer facilities in Public hospitals.
“Cancers are among some of the non communicable diseases on the rise and the incidences of cancer in the country have also increased making cancer the third leading cause of death in our nation. My ministry has embarked on a number of key reforms to address these challenges. Some of the key reforms ongoing include supply chain management, health care financing, hospital and institutional reforms,” he informed.