KENYA –Kenya cancer stakeholders have proposed recommendations that address existing gaps in cancer care to enhance capacity of the public sector to better address emerging cancer challenges.

The stakeholders outlined the need to develop a comprehensive care plan as per National Cancer Treatment protocols to be wholly covered by National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and reimbursed at a standard rate across all facilities.

NHIF has continued to improve the cancer package that was first introduced in 2016 in line with the Universal Health Coverage agenda to ensure that as many Kenyans as possible benefit.

During a two-day national cancer stakeholders’ retreat in Naivasha, they suggested tax exemptions for Cancer Health Products and Technologies as per the MOH essential lists to be prioritized as well as establishment of more oncology programs in Kenya.

The stakeholders proposed guidance on the scope of practice for various training programs for oncology aligned to the strategic focus of cancer control for the country as per the level of care.

They further advocated for amendment of the National Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012 as well as free cancer screening and early diagnosis under Universal Health Coverage for priority cancers.

Consequently, they proposed development of a policy for screening for patients and eligible caregivers who visit health facilities and in-patients as part of routine check-up.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the government was working on equipping hospitals so that they are able to take care of cancer patients and avoid foreign travels in search of treatment.

Next month, we are laying the foundation stone for a cancer center in Kisumu, the Nakuru cancer center is ready for commissioning and the Garissa center will be next,” Kagwe informed the forum.

The ministry of health is taking a multi-sectoral approach by creating an enabling environment that will allow for the collaboration between public sector, faith-based organizations and the private sector in the fight against cancer.

Kagwe emphasized that in terms of structure, summits bringing together officials from the ministry of health and stakeholders will help in formulation of polices that will address existing gaps in cancer treatment.

Besides medical equipment, there is a need to put in place requisite structures and human capital to ensure that the country has the best oncology care available anywhere in the world,” he further noted.

There is also dire need to discuss lifestyles because if the health ministry can prevent cancers from attacking Kenyans, the ministry will have reduced the cancer burden.

Last year, the government launched the Integrated Molecular Imaging Center (IMIC) at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital for cancer diagnosis and management which has propelled the country’s capacity to detect, treat and manage cancer to a whole new level.

It houses medical devices such as a commercial Cyclotron machine, 2 PET-CTs, a SPECT-C machine, 256 Slice CT, and a 3.0 Tesla MRI to offer comprehensive cancer management services,” reports the Health Ministry.

Kwale Country partners with USAID to combat HIV

Meanwhile, Kwale County Government has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) towards the reduction of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) through community sensitization.

The partnership will cater to and better the health conditions of HIV-infected people through the supply of Antiretroviral (ARVS) drugs.

In addition, the US government has intensified scientific research in search of HIV/AIDS cure and the HIV/AIDS vaccine that is in the testing stage is a breakthrough towards eradicating the global epidemic.

The county government has laid great infrastructure for the health sector including construction of 150 dispensaries, up from 34 before the inception of devolution in 2013 and equipping them with personnel, medicine and equipment.

Also, USAID has been a strong pillar in the fight against the Covid-19 virus through the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPES) to health workers, face masks and COVID -19 vaccines.

The collaborative partnership between the devolved unit and the international development agency will result in enhancement of the health sector in the coastal county.

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