Health CS buoyant over country’s capacity as World Cancer Day is observed

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has underscored the government’s commitment to reduce and eliminate the cancer menace by making screening, early diagnosis, radiotherapy and nuclear medicine widely available in Kenya.
Speaking at the Mombasa Regional Cancer Centre during celebrations to mark the World Cancer Day, the health CS said the government is prioritizing access, cost and quality of healthcare in the country in line with the universal health coverage agenda. This he said was through expansion of infrastructure for early cancer diagnosis and treatment and providing training opportunities for oncology, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy professionals.
“This way, we shall no longer need to have our people travel abroad for diagnosis and treatment. This will not only lead to dividends in saved billions at the individual family level but will also benefit the overall economy of the country as people who would otherwise be withdrawn from economic activities will remain available to work and contribute to our economic development.” Observed the CS.
He said thousands of people die from cancers, accounting for an estimated 42,000 new cases and 27,000 fatalities each year, deaths that would often be treatable if there were adequate trained personnel and equipment.
Saying that equipment alone will not be the magic bullet to the cancer menace, Kagwe observed that the government has already established unique e-learning initiatives such as the MOH Virtual Academy where primary health care workers can get access to quality training courses to ensure the availability of Specialists in cancer care.
Speaking after inspecting the regional cancer centre in Mombasa, Kagwe said the facility was a testament of the country’s commitment in its quest to close the critical radiotherapy treatment gap.
“I really look forward to the day this centre will be commissioned but expect that in the meanwhile, it will continue rendering the services it should in making Cancer treatment outcomes for our people here better.” Said the CS.
This even as he challenged county administrations to prioritize healthcare in their respective regions to ease the burden on Kenyans.
Speaking at the same event, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho said the positive synergy between the national and county governments has enabled the transformation of the country’s health sector.
Having lost his mother to cancer after ailing for three years, Governor Joho said he well understands the reality of the cancer menace.
“Cancer survivors’ narratives tell of the true reality of cancer. The suffering of family members and caregivers who carry the biggest burden” said Joho.
The Mombasa regional cancer treatment centre is equipped with an advanced radiation therapy information system. It integrates information technology in the available devices with indirect information technology which aids in clinical, administrative, information management integrated with the hospital information system.
The centre also boasts of a linear accelerator unit for conducting stereotactic radiation therapy to treat various kinds of cancers as well as a brachytherapy unit meant to conduct brachytherapy radiation. The procedure involves placing radioactive sources inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors allowing doctors to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area and avoid delivering radiation to some surrounding organs.
There is also a special training unit at the facility amid anticipation that the centre will be used as an academic centre for health professionals in the near future.
World cancer Day is commemorated annually on the 4th of February and unites the globe to raise awareness among the general public while mobilizing all stakeholders to deliberate on specific actions against cancer.
The global theme for the 2022-2024 is ‘Close the Care Gap’ which focuses on understanding and addressing issues related to equitable access to care.