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Kenya National Cancer Institute Launched

Author: Dr Zipporah Ali
04 February 2015

The Kenya Government Ministry of Health held a media briefing on World Cancer Day and at the same time inaugurated the first National Cancer Institute (NCI) Board of Trustees.

The Kenya Government Ministry of Health held a media briefing on World Cancer Day and at the same time inaugurated the first National Cancer Institute (NCI) Board of Trustees. This has been a long journey for Kenyans.

“Over 30 thousand people develop cancer every year, of these, 27,000 die within 8-18 months. Cancer remains a huge public health problem in Kenya” says Dr. Joseph Kibachio, the Head of the department of Non Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health.

Dr Jackson Kioko, who is the head of the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health at the ministry stated that the Cancer Act that was signed in 2012 by the former president, Hon. Mwai Kibaki, focuses on; public awareness on cancer as key  to cancer control and prevention; availability of facilities for early diagnosis and treatment including palliative care and Cancer research among other strategies.

Katheke Mbithi, a breast cancer survivor pleaded to the government of Kenya to act fast to reduce the suffering of many Kenyans. “I have survived 10 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. During this time, I have seen many friends and colleagues die from different types of cancers. Something needs to be done about the long queues at the radiotherapy department at the national referral hospital. When you tell a patient to come 6 to 12 months later for their treatment, you are simply telling them to go home and die. Please make cancer treatment manageable for patients” she said.

The Chair person of the newly appointed NCI, Dr. Ochiba Lukandu, asked the Ministry of Health to support the institute and make funds available for them to conduct their duties appropriately. He promised that the board of trustees will dedicate their time to improving the current cancer situation in the country.

The Cabinet Secretary of Health, Mr. James Macharia, who was the chief quest at the event congratulated the new board and promised to support the institute to meet is goals and reduce the suffering of patients and their families.

“Kenya is spending over 20 million US dollars per year to send cancer patients out of the country for treatment. We hope that this will not be necessary soon. The government is investing 38 billion Kenyan shillings in bringing equipment to the country. 21 billion of this money is for cancer diagnostics and treatment. The government plans to have 4 treatment centres of excellence as well as have diagnosis centres in all counties across the country. Patients will no longer need to travel far to get a diagnosis” Mr. Macharia assured the public      

The World Cancer Day is marked on 4th February every year. Individually and collectively, people across the globe use the day to profile the alarming number of myths and misconceptions which surround the disease and which collectively limit the ability to prevent and treat the disease successfully.

This year focuses on Healthy Life Choices, with the theme of ‘Not Beyond Us’. Empowering people to make healthy choices and reducing the social and environmental risk factors for cancer are key to achieving the global goal of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025 and reaching the targets of the World Cancer Declaration.

The World Cancer Declaration Targets to be achieved by 2025 are:

Target 1 - Health systems will be strengthened to ensure sustained delivery of effective and comprehensive, patient-centred cancer control programmes across the life-course
Target 3 -  Global tobacco consumption, overweight
and obesity, unhealthy diet, alcohol intake, and levels of physical inactivity, as well as exposure to other known risk factors will have fallen significantly
Target 4 - The cancer causing infections human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) will be covered by universal vaccination programmes.

Meeting this challenge is not beyond us if we work together to:

  • Empower individuals with the right to health
  • Promote an enabling environment for healthy living in our communities, and
  • Urge governments to invest in health systems that support healthy lives

Let us join forces to kick cancer out! 

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