Cancer patients to gain more access to radiotherapy


Cancer patients will gain access to more radiotherapy sessions with the government set to install six new radiotherapy machines at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

The government is keen on increasing access to cancer drugs through direct procurement of chemotherapy drugs and increase the number of specialists at major health facilities in the country.

While making the revelations, Health PS Nicholas Muraguri said the project, which is set to be completed before the end of 2017, will accelerate access to health care for cancer patients and ease disease burden.

“It is not right that after more than 50 years of independence we only have one public radiotherapy centre. The long waiting queues at KNH can take one year and this puts off a lot of people who cannot afford the costs charged in the private facilities. By end of 2017, we shall install six new sets at KNH,” Dr Muraguri said.

He spoke after meeting Radiation Protection Board officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at his Afya House office.

Currently, the country has nine radiotherapy machines, three at KNH and four in the private facilities in Nairobi, against a population of 40 million.

Every year, 39,000 new cancer cases and 28,000 deaths are recorded in the country, placing strains on the existing infrastructure.

This has necessitated the need to expand services in the public sector so as to meet the demand and lift the financial burden.

“We are clear on having a continuum of care because one should get the best care regardless of where they are,” underscored the PS.

Recently the Ministry has partnered with Novartis Pharmaceutical Company and Roche Pharmaceuticals to reduce the price of cancer drugs for Kenyans.

Kenya currently has four radiation oncologists, six medical oncologists and four paediatric oncologists.

The IAEA team is on a fact finding mission that will determine the country’s cancer control potential before sharing its recommendation with the Ministry of Health.

Mission Coordinator Igor Veljikok explained that the taskforce will identify any existing gaps in the provision of care as well as ways through which partnerships could be nurtured in the fight against the killer disease.

The team will look at prevention and early detection of cancer, screening, treatment and also nuclear medicine.

“We will tackle the different gaps in order to get a full picture of the cancer situation in the country. The recommendations will be presented back to the ministry and will include all relevant findings,” he said.

Cancer is currently ranked as the third leading killer disease, after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases accounting for seven percent of total national mortality every year.

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