KENYA —AstraZeneca, a global science-led biopharmaceutical company,  in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Kenya Society of Hematology and Oncology (KESHO), Axios, the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI), and other partners has launched the Cancer Care Africa programme.

The programme, the first of its kind, aims to improve cancer care access and results in an equitable manner across the patient care pathway, from diagnosis to treatment.

The announcement comes at a time when cancer has been identified as a serious public health concern in Kenya and throughout Africa.

Cancer is currently the third leading cause of mortality in Kenya, after only infectious diseases and cardiovascular NCDs, and the fifth leading cause of death in Africa.

According to World Health Organization data, Kenya had 44,726 cancer cases and 29,317 cancer deaths in 2022 alone.

Despite increased prevalence and mortality rates, many people continue to struggle to acquire access to adequate cancer care due to a lack of disease awareness, inadequate diagnostic skills, a lack of structured screening programs, and barriers to treatment.

The launch was attended by Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S. Wafula, Dr. Naphtali Busakhala, Chair, Kenya Society for Hematology and Oncology (KESHO), Dr. Pelin Incesu, Area Vice President for Middle East and Africa, Dr. Khomotso Mashilane, Medical Director, African Cluster at AstraZeneca, and Deepak Arora, Country President, Africa Cluster, AstraZeneca, among others.

In her speech at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi on Tuesday evening, CS described the launch as a significant step toward optimizing cancer care.

This is  because this collaborative initiative has the potential to significantly improve access to diagnosis, treatment, and care, ultimately saving lives and improving the well-being of Kenyans affected by this disease, as well as their families and communities.

The also CS noted that, besides concentrating on cancer diagnosis, the Kenyan government is dedicated to making care and treatment more accessible for families.

She went on to address the role of the Social Health Authority (SHA) and how Kenyans will benefit from even more spending relief because the SHA will cover the enormous costs of cancer treatment for all.

Fredrickson, Executive Vice-President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, emphasized that with an increasing number of cancer patients being diagnosed in Kenya and across Africa, collaborative action to improve patient outcomes and safeguard health care systems for the future has never been more important.

“The Cancer Care Africa programme will support early detection, increase timely diagnosis, and improve access to treatment options for patients across Kenya,” he elaborated.

Cancer Care Africa is part of Accelerating Change Together (ACT) for Cancer Care, a global, AstraZeneca-led effort to revolutionize the way cancer is diagnosed and treated to drive equitable improvement in patient outcomes.

This is in addition to other cancer-related initiatives that Cancer Care Africa has previously undertaken, such as launching an innovative treatment therapy for the management of lung cancer in Kenya in August 2023 and donating a cutting-edge ultrasound biopsy machine to Kenyatta National Hospital in November 2023.

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