KENYA – Kenya has established new health facilities and invested in cancer research to reduce cancer burden in the country.

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy body tissues affecting both children and adults.

According to the Health Ministry, cancer accounts for approximately 10 percent of all disease mortalities in Kenya.

The major types of cancer accounting for more than 70 percent of cases in the country are breast, cervical, prostate, esophageal and colon cancers with lifestyle changes, obesity, advanced age and late diagnosis being the leading causes of cancer cases.

It is a menace in Kenya with 42,000 new cancer cases and 27,000 deaths reported every year but most deaths could be averted on early screening and diagnosis.

The newly launched Universal Health Coverage presents an enhanced ground for creating awareness on cancer prevention, enhanced screening, early diagnosis and treatment access.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that in Nairobi County, the government has already put up 19 new health facilities with six more being rehabilitated in an effort to combat cancer prevalence at the community level.

The government is currently working towards delivering on the President’s directive to build an additional 50 facilities in different parts of the country,” assured Mutahi Kagwe.

Kenya is working to tap emerging technologies in cancer management and ensuring that cancer research is embedded in the various established cancer centres while ensuring that palliative care is achieved at a lower cost as provided under the National Palliative Care Policy framework (2021 – 2030).

He further called for collaborative efforts from all stakeholders in the fight against cancer in the country.

If unchecked, the cancer burden could cripple Kenya’s economic prospects further hindering the achievement of Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals,” emphasized Mutahi Kagwe.

He added that the Ministry of Health established the National Cancer Taskforce in 2021 as a measure to enhance cancer control and management in the country.

The taskforce has embarked on the process of reviewing the institutional framework for cancer management, assessing cancer human resources, health products, technologies and infrastructure,” said Mutahi Kagwe.

The taskforce is also reviewing existing legislation and policies on cancer prevention as well as providing strategic recommendations.

The group was tasked with analyzing stakeholders in the cancer ecosystem, propose an effective coordination framework and recommend strategic interventions for resource mobilization for effective implementation of the identified cancer control interventions,” he explained.

The government is also aligning its cancer control framework to the various global initiatives on cancer control including elimination of cervical cancer as a health problem, the global breast and childhood cancers initiatives among others.

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