KENYA: Kenyans to wait longer for vital cancer centres

September 2016 DailyNation; Kenyans suffering from cancer will have to wait another “two to three years” for the treatment centres they were promised last year.

This was announced by Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri in an interview with the Daily Nation on Tuesday.

The government has invested Sh21 billion in cancer diagnostic equipment as part of an ambitious Sh38 billion programme.

The cancer centres, seen as the solution to decongest referral hospitals, were to be set up in Mombasa, Nyeri, Eldoret and Kisumu at a cost of Sh1 billion each.
Dr Muraguri told Nation: “In two to three years, machines for the regional centres will be in place. By then we will have trained the necessary personnel such as physicists.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when asked to give a timeline when the centres would be opened, he told a health summit at State House: “We are doing this in phases and are working to ensure the Sh300 million machine donated by India is installed at KNH in three months and by June next year, we will have revamped the cancer centres at KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.”

The machine, expected to treat 40 to 50 patients daily, will provide palliative care or pain relief in advanced cancers of the cervix, breast and prostate. However, KNH has a long list of patients awaiting treatment.

The other alternative is for patients to seek treatment at private hospitals, whose costs are out of reach for most.

Cancer patients on Tuesday said they were “devastated” by the news.

Ms Caroline Ng’ang’a, a cancer survivor and CEO of Held Sister Initiative, an NGO that supports women with the disease, said she was “traumatised”.

DEVASTATING AND PAINFUL

“Treatment is an urgent need for patients. This is sad, devastating and painful. All the people from Marsabit, Mandera and other far off places will have to travel to KNH,” she said.

“Please bring together all the stakeholders, including patients, to discuss this further because these decisions affect us. Or we as Kenyans, come together and contribute towards a cancer treatment centre,” she said.

Meanwhile, participants at the health summit urged doctors to change their attitude towards patients as they were sullying the profession.

However, the medics’ union said county governments were to blame because they failed to meet their needs like good working conditions, remuneration and support to attend trainings. “Kenyan doctors are expected to pay rent like everyone else, pay fees for their children, but that is not happening. In places like Nairobi, doctors have not been paid for six months,” said a union official, Dr Ouma Oluga.

Some participants, however, felt these reasons were not good enough to disregard the Hippocratic Oath that states the obligations and proper conduct of doctors.

Governors Jack Ranguma of Kisumu, Paul Chepkwony of Kericho and Kinuthia Mbugua of Nakuru denied county governments were mismanaging health dockets.

Governor Ranguma said the “teething problems” in the health sector in the counties did not mean the devolved systems had failed.

 

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