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Laboso and Okoth’s death a wake up call on govt’s cancer strategy

Dr Joyce Laboso and Kibra MP Ken Okoth; both died of cancer. Photo/CFM.

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 29 – The death of Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso has shocked the nation, coming barely three days after that of Kibra MP Ken Okoth who also died of cancer.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto sent condolence messages to the family, and assured them of maximum support.

“”God has finally rested Joyce because she has been under a lot of pain. Let us stand with the family at this difficult time,” Ruto said, describing the death a big blow to the country.

ODM leader Raila Odinga, who spoke to journalists after viewing Laboso’s body at the Lee Funeral Home, said Kenya has lost a great leader.

Odinga said “It is a big blow to the country to lose Laboso,” Odinga said, and recounted his last moments with her a week ago, when her condition was worsening.

“I have visited her several times in hospital here in Nairobi and London and she was always alive to the happenings in the country,” Odinga said.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said there is need for an urgent legislation on cancer management following the increased cases.

Okoth too died of cancer on Friday, after seeking treatment in France unsuccessfully.

“The rate at which we are losing leaders to cancer is alarming, and I think this is the time we need to quickly come up with legislation both at the Senate and National Assembly to address this as a disaster that is with us now,” he said, “because you can imagine those who are a bit privileged can be able to go India and other advanced hospitals but for the poor, we need to come up with a legislation that can take both the poor and the rich.”

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Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o said, “I do hope that we find a solution so that we don’t continue losing many people to cancer.”

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said “There are more than 60 MPs who are battling cancer and this a very serious, as leaders we should now sit and strategize on how to go about this monster.”

Laboso’s widower Edwin Obonyo recounted the difficult time the family had faced during the entire period she was ailing, and lauded the government for standing with them.

“It has not been easy for us,” he said, “but the government was always on our side and we received a lot of support.”

Council of Governor Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said he received information of her death while meeting fellow governors over the revenue stand-off.

“It is shocking and devastating to lose one of us,” he said, “we will miss her because of the work she did for her people. When I visited her in hospital, the one question she asked was if we (counties) had been given money.”

Businessman Dr Chris Kirubi who is also the Chairman of Capital Group Limited mourned Laboso as a “great leader who served with diligence and selflessness.”

Laboso succumbed to cancer at the Nairobi Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Laboso, who leaves behind three children, was the second Governor for Bomet County having defeated Isaac Ruto in the 2017 elections.

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She has previously served as Bomet MP in the last Parliament when she was named Deputy Speaker.

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