The recent successful heart surgery by Kenyatta National Hospital cardiologists should act as a wake-up call to the government to start investing in our hospitals and the citizens to start believing in our healthcare system.
The milestone can be repeated in all the other hospitals if they are well equipped. That will also motivate medical students as they will have hospitals where to do their practical lessons while at school and during their attachment and internships. It will also ease the lecturers’ work.
Our leaders, too, should start believing in our medical capabilities rather than trooping to overseas countries for treatment whenever they or their relatives or even allies require specialised treatment, including surgery, or even regular check-up. They should ensure that our hospitals have state-of-the-art equipment as they could also be beneficiaries of the facilities.
Lastly, as a nation, we should always appreciate our health workers as they make sacrifices to ensure we are in good health. It is agonising to see them on strike every now and then over disputes about their welfare. The authorities should settle the disputes once and for all.
Benedict Ndeto, Mombasa
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Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, claiming more than eight million lives yearly. The incidence of cancer is projected to increase by 50 per cent in the next decade.
Cancer is the third-highest cause of mortality in Kenya. It is also the second-leading cause of death among the non-communicable diseases with 28,000 new cases recorded every year, out of which 20,000 die.
Recent advances in oncology research indicate the need for personalised cancer treatment. That is based on identifying specific mutations that drive various cancers and then developing therapies targeting aberrations occasioned by the mutations.
To make this possible, a project, pan-cancer analysis of whole genome, was launched to study driver mutations in various cancers. Some 2,605 tumours from 176 patients were analysed.
The study, whose findings were published in the journal Nature on February 5 last year, indicates a possibility of using driver cancer mutations as biomarkers that can help to diagnose cancer early enough and initiate personalised treatment to clear the cancer.
Further, the project aims to establish a cancer atlas showing how different driver mutations promote cancer initiation, metastasis and evasion of immunity.
The report is critical for the pharmaceutical sector in designing therapies, as well as universities and research institutions to mitigate its adverse effects.
Dr P. M. Mutua, immunologist, Makueni