NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – The Government has been challenged to address the root cause of cancer, before the killer disease can be declared a national disaster.
National Council of Community Based Organizations leader Tom Aosa on Monday said lack of law enforcement by various government agencies tasked with ensuring Kenyans are feeding on quality food is partly to blame for the menace.
He lamented that such agencies like the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) have failed to stamp their authority, paving way for crooked businessmen to flood the market with counterfeit goods, that pose a serious health threat to Kenyans.
A case in point, Aosa said, was the recent exposé, that revealed how unscrupulous retailers were using poisonous chemicals to preserve meat.
“We should fix what can cause new cancer cases first,” he said in an interview with Capital FM News.
While the level of cancer awareness has been enhanced, he said that is a case of too little too late, since Kenyans are not guaranteed that they are feeding on healthy foodstuff.
“Who knows what we are eating is even safe?” he rhetorically asked.
The exposé revealed the use of Sodium Metabisulphite by three retail outlets to prolong the shelf life of meat products.
The investigation showed meat samples from the supermarkets had chemical residue exceeding the permissible limit of 500p.p.m (parts per million).
The Ministry of Health has since directed county governments to scale up inspection and prioritize the implementation of health measures that are aimed at safeguarding public health safety.
“If it is a corrupt government official is standing in the way, he or she should be dealt with firmly,” Aosa said.
His sentiments come at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a raft of measures to combat cancer which among others include a plan to increase budgetary allocation, increase the number of chemotherapy and radiology centres across the country to make the services more accessible.
“We will add three more radiology centres across the country. We will have one in Garissa, another one in Mombasa and the third one in Nakuru,” President Kenyatta announced on August 2, during the burial of late Bomet Governor burial Joyce Laboso,.
“We will also have 10 more chemotherapy centres in Mombasa, Kisumu, Kakamega, Garissa, Nyeri, Nakuru, Meru and Machakos among other counties,” he continued.
The President who described the late Laboso as an astute servant leader and trailblazer disclosed that the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret will be upgraded to become a centre of excellence for cancer treatment and training for upcoming medical professionals in oncology so that they can help in the fight against the disease.
“The ultra-modern Kenyatta University Hospital will be opened next month. This also will have a facility for treating cancer. We will add two more centres of excellence for the treatment of cancer – one in Kisii and another one in Nyeri which will be ready by next year,” the President said.
To enhance the human resource capacity to deal with the scourge, the President revealed that the government is currently training 20 cancer doctors, 28 clinical officers and 31 radiologists.
“When these complete their training, we will take more for training so that all these centres will have young specialists who will be able to help our people manage this disease,” he said.
Calls for actions have increased following the deaths of Kibra MP, the late Ken Okoth, that of Laboso and Safaricom Chief Executive Officer, the late Bob Collymore.