What you need to know:
- Out there in the villages, many have died quietly and their families suffer in silence.
- We should also invest in disease research and surveillance.
It is unfortunate that it takes the death of a prominent leader in the country for us to realise we’re yet to reach that level in health when we can tell the world that our primary healthcare is up to standard.
Our Founder Fathers—those who fought for our freedom— identified the cardinal enemies the country had to fight to be fully independent: Poverty, illiteracy and disease. Surprisingly, six decades down the line, we are still struggling to win the war. The death this week of Juja MP Francis Waititu from cancer of the brain and others before him, reminds us of a scourge among many others that need addressing.
Cancer is causing distress and a lot of pain in this country. The only problem is that we always bring out the devastating effects of the disease when a prominent person succumbs to it.
Out there in the villages, many have died quietly and their families suffer in silence. It’s time we declared cancer a national disaster. This is the time the government ensured we have the right facilities to combat this monster.
Why should so many Kenyans travel outside the country for treatment when we can build the capacity to handle the disease right here in Kenya? The favourite destination is India. What makes Kenya different from India? It is just because India is focused on what health is all about.
Kenya can do the same. It’s all about accepting that cancer has permeated the society and the only solution is to pump resources into the health sector to overcome it alongside other diseases that are a threat to public health.
We should also invest in disease research and surveillance. We have infrastructure in the form of good hospital buildings. We have highly qualified health workers who don’t have a job. Yet many have died of cancer. The time to stop cancer is now.
David M. Kigo, Nairobi
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Cancer is the third-leading cause of death in Kenya after infectious and cardiovascular diseases, claiming some 2, 800 lives yearly. About 37,000 new cases are diagnosed in the country each year.
The Ministry of Health and the county governments should initiate counselling services and provide patients with drugs free of charge. The government should subsidise prostheses or even provide them for free. That will be a huge relief to thousands of patients who are financially drained.
The ministry and the counties should incorporate cancer services in their development plans. Parliament should spare a portion of the budget to establish cancer treatment centres at Kenyatta National Referral Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and every Level 5 hospital to save patients from travelling long distances and spending a fortune on treatment.
Josphine Wambui Muriithi, Kisumu