Institute raises red flag over cancer

 Kenna Claude

The number of people suffering from cancer has more than doubled in the last six years to stand at 45,000 from 22,000 in 2012.

National Cancer Institute acting director Alfred Karagu said yesterday more than 60 per cent of people affected are below 70 years.

Speaking during Nairobi Hospice graduation ceremony yesterday, Karagu said  the problem has been exacerbated by lack of access to screening services, treatment or palliative care and late diagnosis.

“Most deaths are related to cost of treatment which is beyond the reach of most families, especially those in rural areas,” he said.

In terms of human resource, he said, the country has only 12 oncologists for a population of 48 million, with three-quarters of the medical officers operating in private facilities.

  Annually, 10, 000 patients seek treatment abroad at a cost of Sh1 billion annually. 

Karagu said intense sensitisation campaign on the disease from media and cancer support groups has jolted the public to go for early screening and government to act.

Nairobi Hospice chairperson Sobbie Mulindi challenged national and county governments to implement waste disposal policies saying that poor disposal of electronic waste is partly to blame for the spread of the disease. 

Nairobi Women’s Rep Esther Passaris urged training institutions to come up with courses that would empower women in informal settlements to take care of ailing family members.

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