Cancer, a non-communicable disease, is the third leading cause of death in Kenya, with the World Health Organisation estimating that there are 40,000 new cases and 28,000 cancer-related deaths every year.
According to data by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), breast and cervical cancers form the highest number of new cancer cases while oesophagus, prostate and colorectal cancers follow, respectively, on the new cancer cases in the country.
Here is a list of some of prominent people in Kenya who have succumbed to the disease.
- Joyce Laboso—Bomet Governor. Died on July 29
She wasthe first woman governor of Bomet County in 2017. She was also the first woman to be elected the Deputy National Assembly Speaker in 2013. Before she was thrown into the murky world of politics, she was a lecturer at Egerton University. She had been recruited by the institution upon her graduation from the University of Hull in the UK in 2006 where she obtained a PhD in Gender and Language Education.
- Ken Okoth — Kibra MP. Died on July 26
The 41-year-old second-term MP for Kibra Constituency had sought treatment in France for colorectal cancer for five months before returning to the country about a month ago.
- Bob Collymore — Safaricom CEO. Died on July 1
The Guyanese-born British businessman was the second chief executive officer at the giant telecommunications company, taking over from Michael Joseph in 2010. He died of Acute Myeloid Leukemia at his Kitisuru home following an extensive stay at a United Kingdom hospital from October 2017 to July 2018.
- Grace Kipchoim— Baringo South MP. Died on April 20, 2018
The MP was serving her second term in office when she died of colon cancer at the Nairobi Hospital. She was re-elected for a second term without having campaigned.
- Calestous Juma — Harvard professor and researcher. Died on December 15, 2017
The US-based scholar was the only Kenyan to be listed in the inaugural list of “2017 Most Reputable People on Earth.” He began his career as a science teacher in Mombasa between 1974 and 1978 before becoming the first science and environment journalist for Daily Nation between 1978 and 1979. He died of cancer while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts.
- Francis Nyenze — Former Cabinet minister and MP. Died on December 6, 2017
The former minister served as MP for Kitui West Constituency from 1997 to 2002 where he doubled up as the Minister for Environment and was later moved to the Ministry of Heritage and Sports. He served as an MP again from 2013 until 2017. He died at the Nairobi Hospital while undergoing treatment for colon cancer.
- Nicholas Biwott — Former Cabinet minister and founder of NVP party. Died on July 11, 2017
He was a businessman and politician. He served as a civil servant, MP and Cabinet minister during which time he held eight senior ministerial positions under the presidency of Daniel arap Moi. He had been battling throat cancer when he collapsed at his home and was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
- David Mwiraria — Former Finance minister. Died on April 13, 2017
The once powerful minister was also the first student to graduate with a master’s degree at the University of Nairobi. He was to face corruption charges alongside 13 others for their alleged role in the multi-billion-shilling Anglo Leasing scandal, but he never appeared in court due to ill health. He died of bone cancer at the Karen Hospital.
- Janet Kanini — TV personality. Died on April 1, 2017
The former NTV news anchor was open about her illness after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, the disease that killed her father a few years earlier. She would post about her treatment in India on her Facebook page regularly and she came back home after she went into remission about a year before her death at 39 years of age.
- Nderitu Gachagua – Governor, Nyeri and former MP. Died February 25, 2017
He was the first governor of Nyeri County, following the 2013 General Election. He died at Royal Marsden Hospital in London while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.
- Wangari Maathai — Nobel laureate, former MP, Cabinet minister and founder, Greenbelt Movement. Died on September 25, 2011
Prof Maathai was born in 1940 and educated at the University of Nairobi as well as Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh in the US. She was an environmental activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize. She died at the Nairobi Hospital while receiving treatment for ovarian cancer.