KENYA:MPs support bid to make cancer treatment part of basic healthcare

September 2020 Dailynation ; The Cancer Prevention and Control (Amendment) Bill, 2019, yesterday received overwhelming support from Members of Parliament during the debate in the morning session.

Sponsored by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, the bill seeks to amend Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012 to include cancer treatment as part of the provision of primary healthcare.

Ms Wanga wants the National Cancer Institute allowed to train medical, paediatric and radiation therapy oncologists. Further, Ms Wanga wants the institute to collaborate with the Health department to train oncology nurses, physicists, and other healthcare providers.

If the bill is passed and assented to by President Kenyatta, it will come as a great relief to thousands of cancer patients who have to travel to Nairobi to get quality and affordable treatment as it advocates for the treatment of cancer at the basic level.

Disease burden

Kathiani MP Robert Mbui termed the bill as progressive, saying, cancer affects everyone and there should be concerted effort to tame it.

Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau said cancer should be treated at the basic level to ease the disease burden in the population.

“One of the problems we have had in this country is late detection of cancer. This bill, if passed, will ensure that cancer detection and treatment is done at the lowest community level,” Ms Gitau said.

Her Siaya counterpart Christine Ombaka said there is also need for health facilities to reduce the cost of screening and treatment as it is out of reach for many Kenyans.

“Treatment of cancer is expensive. That’s why many people fear going to hospital. We need to ensure that we reduce the cost in our hospitals,” Dr Ombaka said.

The bill also proposes training of more oncologists, who will then be available to many people, especially in the rural areas, who currently lack access to specialised medics.

The bill also champions the promotion of e-health and telemedicine in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Ms Wanga said this provision will be a great milestone as it will enable doctors across the country to share information on cancer treatment.

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