KENYA — The Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital (KUTRRH) has opened a Comprehensive Breast Care Centre in an effort to make breast cancer treatment more accessible and affordable to patients in Kenya.

The Centre, which aims to improve screening, diagnostics, and treatment for breast cancer and other diseases, was established through a collaboration between Roche, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), and the Ministry of Health.

As part of the agreement, the launch marked the beginning of the Herceptin SC national access program, which provides NHIF members with breast cancer treatment at public hospitals without co-payment.

This now allows Kenyans with breast cancer, particularly women, to receive treatment at public hospitals without having to pay out-of-pocket, relieving them of the financial burden and ensuring they have access to high-quality care.

Among the services provided at the Center include breast health education, clinical breast examination, mammograms, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, biopsy, histopathology, immunohistochemistry (IHC), staging CT scans/PET scans, and specialist consultations.

The Centre currently serves an average of 20 patients per day, but that number is expected to increase to around 50 patients per day in the coming weeks.

Breast Cancer is the most diagnosed cancer and the cause of the most cancer-related deaths in women globally.

The new center was established at a time the country continues to experience spiraling breast cancer cases with statistics showing at least 6,000 breast cancer diagnoses and 2,500 deaths annually.

Early detection of breast cancer, combined with effective and early treatment options, are critical to reducing the mortality rate of breast cancer patients.

Speaking after launching the new center that will provide one-stop-shop care for patients, principal secretary in charge of the Ministry of Health Susan Mochache revealed that while up to forty percent of all cancers can be prevented, there is need for stakeholders to continuously rethink breast cancer disease counter strategies and accord more focus on prevention, which has been shown to be the most cost-effective way of fighting the deadly ailment.

She disclosed that the government has put in place measures to strengthen health systems to ensure all Kenyans receive equitable and accessible cancer prevention and control services.

Mochache also rooted for early screening of the disease in line with Breast Cancer Action Plan, whose goal is to ensure that 90% of women with breast cancer are diagnosed in early stages for timely management.

Furthermore, Mochache emphasized that much progress has been made through effective collaborations to make cancer management services more widely available, including expanding infrastructure and providing training opportunities in oncology and allied professions.

Her sentiments were echoed by KUTRRH CEO Ahmed Dagane who reiterated the need for early detection of cancers saying it improves chances of successful treatment and ultimate survival.

The new center, he said, will enable breast cancer patients’ access quick and affordable diagnostic tests, scans, and results within 60 days of presentation.

He said the center is currently providing subsidized services such as mammography at Ksh 2,000 (US$ 16.8), breast ultrasound at Ksh 1,500 (US$12.6), breast MRI at Ksh 25,000 (US$209.7), and staging PET/CT scans for those without NHIF cover at Ksh 18,000 (US$160).

Eleven regional cancer centers including Nakuru, Meru, Nyeri, Embu, Garissa, Bomet, Machakos, Coast, Kakamega, Kisumu, and Makueni are currently operational and provide chemotherapy and surgical services throughout the country.

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