May 17, 2022

Health stakeholders want radical proposals in the fight against cancer

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The government is taking a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against cancer.
Speaking in Naivasha at the close of the two-day national cancer stakeholders’ retreat, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the ministry of health is creating an enabling environment that will allow for the collaboration between the public sector, faith-based organizations and the private sector.
“We want to create equitable service delivery, but above that, the manner of management of healthcare. We want collaboration rather than ownership,” said Kagwe.
The health CS said the government has put in place a raft of interventions to address existing gaps as it moves to enhance the capacity of the public sector to better address emerging health challenges, especially the cancer menace.
“What I am doing is not new, it is what you have always wanted to do. We quickly need to get the basics right. We are working on equipping our hospitals so that they can take care of our cancer patients and avoid foreign travels in search of treatment,” Kagwe said.
“But how are we going to manage cancer in terms of structures” the CS posed. Kagwe said deliberations such as those witnessed during the cancer taskforce retreat which brought together officials from the ministry of health and stakeholder will help in the formulation of policies that will address existing gaps.
The health CS said besides the equipment, there was a need to put in place requisite structures and human capital to ensure that the country has the best oncology care available anywhere in the world.
“We are looking at the whole scope, all the way from surveillance, diagnosis and treatment. What we have been missing in this country are surveillance and diagnosis. We must also discuss lifestyles because if we can prevent this disease from attacking our people, we will have reduced the cancer burden,” the CS observed.
According to the CS, the launch of the Integrated Molecular Imaging Services at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital for cancer diagnosis and management has propelled the country’s capacity to detect, treat and manage cancer to a whole new level. The facility is an ultra-modern and the first-ever PUBLIC IMIC not only in Kenya but also in the region. The IMIC centre has a commercial Cyclotron, 2 PET-CTs, a SPECT-C machine, 256 Slice CT, and a 3.0 Tesla MRI.
“Next month, we are laying the foundation stone for a cancer centre in Kisumu, the Nakuru cancer centre is ready for commissioning and the Garissa centre will be next. What we have done in the past three years has never been done before,” the CS said.
This even as he said that the investments put in place by the government must be matched with requisite human skills.
Speaking at the same event, NHIF CEO Peter Kamunyo said the fund has since expanded the scope of its services in line with the UHC agenda.
“Over the years, we have continued to expand our benefits to ensure that as many Kenyans as possible benefit. We have continued to improve the cancer package that was first introduced in 2016,” said Kamunyo.
Among recommendations proposed during the forum includes the need to develop a comprehensive care plan as per National Cancer Treatment protocols to be wholly covered by NHIF and reimbursed at a standard rate across all facilities, prioritize tax exemptions for Cancer Health Products and Technologies as per the MOH essential lists and establishment of more oncology programs as well as guidance on the scope of practice for the various training programs for oncology in the country aligned to the strategic focus of cancer control for the country, as per the level of care. Others include the amendment of the National Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012 and the development of regulations to operationalize the Institute as well as offering free cancer screening and early diagnosis under UHC for priority cancers as well as the development of a policy for screening for patients and eligible caregivers who visit health facilities and in-patients as part of a routine check-up.
The Cancer Taskforce was constituted by the health Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary for Health on 10th May 2021. The task force comprises seven members with Mary Nyangasi and Miriam Mutebi acting as co-chairs. Others are Alfred Karagu who is the task force secretary, Loise Nyanjau, Benjamin Inoti and Patrick Mathagu.

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