Kenya moves to enhance capacity in the field of nuclear medicine


The fight against cancer in the country is set for a boost with the expected arrival of two additional medical electron linear accelerators valued at over 250 million shillings.
The medical equipment, donated by the US government through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is expected to supplement ongoing government efforts of enhancing local capacity through investments in cutting-edge technology for cancer treatment and care.
Speaking during a virtual meeting, that brought together senior officials of the Agency as well as representatives from the ministry of health, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the support was welcome especially at a time the cancer menace is devastating many Kenyan families.
“Majority of cancer patients in the country and the region seek treatment services abroad. Therefore, there is an opportunity to intervene from within the country with better investments.” He noted adding that there was a need to up the game in cancer treatment to save lives and cushion vulnerable families from sinking into poverty.
Kagwe thanked the agency for its continued support saying the collaboration has left the country better prepared to tackle the challenges posed by cancer. He said Kenya has recorded commendable progress towards this endeavour with the setting up of the Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre at Kenyatta University Teaching, Research and Referral Hospital. The CS said isotopes manufactured at the facility will be sent to 7 other centres.
This even as he observed the need for capacity building of human resources and the management of radioactive materials besides investment in the capacity to detect, isolate and manage radioactive materials at the country’s ports of entry.

While lauding Kenya for her efforts, IAEA Director, Division for Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation Professor Shaukat Abdulrazak said the agency remains ready to support Kenya in her efforts to expand radiotherapy services and nuclear medicine as well as human resources development in radiation medicine.
He said Kenya is one of the beneficiaries of the Rays of Hope program which is set to be launched in the country in February next year.
Addressing the virtual meeting, Head of the national cancer control programme at the ministry of health Dr. Mary Nyangasi cited lack of adequate human resources, limited infrastructure for cancer management, limited quality assurance systems for diagnosis and treatment, nuclear medicine support as well as late stage presentation leading to poor treatment outcomes as some of the challenges faced by the country as it seeks to comprehensively deal with the cancer menace.

Speaking at the same forum, IAEA director, Division of Human health Dr May Abdel Wahab said the agency will provide training opportunities for Kenyan experts to ensure sustained provision of cancer care and treatment.