M a r k e t N e w s

Govt. to install six new radiotherapy machines

Posted on : Wednesday, 24th August 2016

The Government is set to install six new radiotherapy machines to boost the treatment of cancer at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).

The expansion project, which will be completed before the end of 2017, will accelerate access to health care for cancer patients and ease the disease burden.

At the moment the country has nine radiotherapy machines, three at KNH and four in the private facilities in Nairobi, against a population of 40 million. The World Health Organization ratio is one radiotherapy machine per one million.

The Principal Secretary for Health, Dr. Nicholas Muraguri made the revelations when he met the Radiation Protection Board officials and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday.

 “It is not right that after more than 50 years of independence we only have one public radiotherapy centre. The long waiting queues at KNH can take one year and this puts off a lot of people who cannot afford the costs charged in the private facilities,” PS said.

Although a single radiotherapy session at KNH costs KSh1,000, private facilities charge between KSh8,000 and KSh10,000 – a cost that is beyond the reach of many Kenyans.

Every year, 39,000 new cancer cases and 28,000 deaths are recorded in the country, placing strains on the existing infrastructure. This has necessitated the need to expand services in the public sector so as to meet the demand and lift the financial burden.

“We are clear on having a continuum of care because one should get the best care regardless of where they are,” underscored the PS.

The PS added that country is keen on increasing access to cancer drugs through direct procurement of chemotherapy drugs to get rid of middlemen who have been driving the cost of the drugs up.

Recently the Ministry has partnered with Novartis Pharmaceutical Company and Roche Pharmaceuticals to reduce the price of cancer drugs for Kenyans. But more needs to be done, the PS maintained

“How do we remove these cartels? Should we use generics? How do we ring-fence the supply agency so that people can access drugs at an affordable costs?” the PS argued.

The government is also committed to increasing the number of cancer specialists. Kenya currently has four radiation oncologists, six medical oncologists and four paediatric oncologists.

The IAEA team is on a fact finding mission that will determine the country’s cancer control potential before sharing its recommendation with the Ministry of Health.

Mission Coordinator Igor Veljikok explained that the taskforce will identify any existing gaps in the provision of care as well as ways through which partnerships could be nurtured in the fight against the killer disease.

The team will look at prevention and early detection of cancer, screening, treatment and also nuclear medicine.

“We will tackle the different gaps in order to get a full picture of the cancer situation in the country. The recommendations will be presented back to the ministry and will include all relevant findings,” he said.

Cancer is currently ranked as the third leading killer disease, after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases accounting for seven percent of total national mortality every year.

Over 60 percent of affected patients are aged below 70 years while more than 80 percent of cancer cases in Kenya present in late stage.

The top five cancers affecting males in Kenya are prostate, oesophagus, colorectal, stomach and kaposi’s sarcoma whereas for females are cervix, breast, oesophagus, stomach and colorectal cancers. Among children, the common cancers are leukaemia, lymphomas and retinoblastomas.

IAEA has a long-standing relationship with the Kenyan government in the health, energy and agricultural sectors.

Source : www.health.go.ke
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