Society / Health & Science
Wednesday, 15 Jun 2016 07:52 EATsonindo@kenyafreepress.com
Fifteen women are being diagnosed with the disease in Nairobi every week, says the Ministry of Health, which has announced plans to roll out a new strategy for screening and early detection to combat the disease from July.
Speaking during a cervical cancer forum in Nairobi, the principal secretary in the ministry of health, Nicholas Muraguri, said the government plans to introduce the vaccine following successful pilot tests in Kitui County in 2013.
“Cancer is becoming the new threat to our survival. The number of new cases and deaths is almost equal; it’s like everyone who gets cancer dies. Given the disease patterns that we are now seeing, you’re likely to die of cancer than any other non-communicable disease,” the PS said.
Cervical Cancer is the second most recurrent cancer after Breast Cancer among women in Kenya. Mostly caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), it is also the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. Approximately 3,000 cervical cancer cases are recorded annually, out of which an estimated 1,600 women succumb to this highly preventable ailment.
Cervical cancer is a menace that is prevailing in Kenya, as many women do not know what to look out for in terms of signs and symptoms. In addition, symptoms start to show at the later stages when the disease is more advanced and has spread to surrounding tissues. This in turn makes the disease even harder to treat.
Cancer as a whole is becoming more burdensome yet not much has been done to improve the situation. Instead, HIV/AIDS and Malaria are receiving the most focus. As a result, cancer is claiming more lives in Kenya. Currently, there are 13 hospitals that offer cancer treatment in Kenya. Out of these oncology centers, Kenyatta National Hospital offers the most affordable services, causing many underprivileged patients to line up at the facility for treatment.
Many cancer patients’ lives are at risk, with only two radiotherapy machines at KNH. The government could certainly do better.
Cancer is ranked as the third leading cause of mortality in Kenya after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. It accounts for seven percent of all deaths in the country annually. It is this harsh reality that has prompted screenings sponsored by both governmental and private organizations. Despite these screenings being free, Kenyans still turn out in unreasonably low numbers. This is precisely the reason why many cancer cases are not arrested early.
The vaccine to be introduced in public hospitals currently costs about Sh7,000 per dose in private institutions.
Sandra is a staff writer at the Kenya Free Press specializing in news, health and lifestyle coverage. She can be reached at