Cancer fund launched in honour of Joyce Laboso

Edwin Abonyo lays a wreath at the grave of his wife Dr Joyce Laboso on July 29, 2020 during the first anniversary of her death. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Dr Joyce Laboso Global Cancer Education Fund has been established in collaboration with the Ethics and Integrity Institute, according to Dr Laboso’s widower, Edwin Abonyo.
  • Dr Laboso succumbed to cancer on July 29 last year.

An organisation dedicated to training of cancer specialists in the country will be unveiled in honour of former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso during the first anniversary of her death Wednesday.

Dr Joyce Laboso Global Cancer Education Fund has been established in collaboration with the Ethics and Integrity Institute, according to Dr Laboso’s widower, Edwin Abonyo.

 “The mission is to solidify Kenya’s capacity on cancer treatment and management by sponsoring medical professionals who wish to specialise in oncology or cancer related areas in medical schools around the world,” Mr Abonyo told the Nation on Tuesday, ahead of her memorial to be observed in Fort Ternan.

Dr Laboso succumbed to cancer on July 29 last year.

During her funeral ceremony President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would increase the allocation to cancer management and 10 centres would be constructed around the country. He promised that the government would ensure there was a chemotherapy centre at Longisa Hospital, Bomet for cancer treatment by September.

 The President said the government was training 20 oncologists, 28 specialist clinical officers and 31 radiologists who would be posted to regional hospitals in a bid to reduce the number of people seeking treatment abroad.

 “As leaders, we must put our efforts together and address the cancer scourge in the country so that Kenyans can be treated in local facilities. Very few people can have access to the specialized treatment Dr Laboso was accorded. Unfortunately, she succumbed to the illness,” President Kenyatta said.

Due to the scarcity oncologists in Kenya, and with over 30,000 cancer patients, each specialist in the country has to be in charge of more than 4,000 patients compared to 150 each in developed countries.

 “Our main goal in setting up the foundation is to raise the number of oncologists in the country from the current documented 35 specialists to 1,000 by sponsoring one professional from each of the 47 counties every year to specialise in the field,” said Mr Abonyo

 Ms Jacky Nyandeje of the Ethics and Integrity Institute said Kenyans suffering from cancer have had to seek treatment in the United Kingdom, India, South Africa and United States.

“There is need for government and other stakeholders to train more cancer specialists and bridge the huge gap of doctor to patient ratio,” said Ms Nyandeje.

 Dr Joseph Sitonik, the County Executive in charge of Medical Services and Public Health, said chemotherapy equipment has been installed at Longisa Hospital by the national government with the oncology clinic having been set up.

 Dr Sitonik said the oncology unit was set up in collaboration with Moi Teaching and Referral hospital (MTRH) and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in line with President Kenyatta’s directive during Dr Laboso’s burial.

“The oncology clinic has become a major relief for cancer patients in the region as we are able to screen patients, conduct chemotherapy sessions and provide palliative care,” said Dr Stephen Omondi who works at the cancer unit.

 Mr Abonyo said due to the protocols set by the government to contain Covid-19, the family will have a prayer session to be led by clerics from the ACK church.

 He said the family is expecting a representative kind of attendance in what will be a brief ceremony.

“We expect her friends to come but we have not gotten confirmation as most of them are politicians and with President Kenyatta having warned against large gatherings during his nation address on Monday, we have to comply with the rules,” said Mr Abonyo.

 On how the family is coping one year on, Mr Abonyo said: “It can never be easy, but time has its effect. A lot of the bad effects have weaned off and we are emerging from the loss. It is a process,”

 He added: “Of course, there is loneliness as a result of losing a wife, a partner, lover, a friend and a mother. As the immediate and extended family, we are all learning to deal with it…to deal with the reality that she (Dr Laboso) is gone forever from our midst.”

 Dr Laboso succumbed to cancer at Nairobi hospital on July, 29, 2019 where she had been admitted for 15 days after being flown back from a hospital in India.

 She was accorded a state burial on August 3 last year at her home in Fort Ternan.