2011 has seen Kenyans become more aware of the adverse effects that cancer can have on one’s health. The year begun with medical services minister Prof. Anyang Nyong’o admitting in the media that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and taking time of his ministerial duties to seek treatment abroad.
Then came the 9 year old media magnet princess Rose Nasimiyu who was at that tender cage diagnosed with leukemia or cancer of the blood. The effects of the cancer treatment chemotherapy being evident in every of her appearances until she lost her hair. But the optimism she radiated not only through her song ‘I believe’ put forth her determination to beat the cancer.
Most recently the world mourned the death of the first African woman Nobel Peace prize winner Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai who succumbed to ovarian cancer.
Statistics shows the alarming rate at which cancer is spreading throughout the country.50 people die on a daily basis succumbing to the various forms of cancer while 82,000 are diagnosed with the disease annually.
Cancer treatment is still unaffordable to many of the people particularly those living in rural and urban informal settlements. Worse still there are very few trained oncologists (doctors) to deal with cancer treatment because of the cost involved.
Pressure has been put on the government from all quarters in order to declare cancer a national disaster in order to subsidize cost of treatment and management of patients.
So far a national cancer control strategy was passed in August but the challenge would be for MPs to show their commitment in fighting the scourge by enacting the Draft Cancer Bill and Strategy in order to provide a comprehensive framework for treatment and control of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Breast and cervical cancers are the most common forms in women while prostate and stomach cancers dominate among the men.
According to the Nairobi cancer registry breast cancer is the number one killer of women aged between 35 and 55. Between 80% -90% of the patients go for consultations when they are in the advance stages 3 and 4 of the cancer. Much of the appalling treatments like chemotherapy and mastectomy (removal of breast) can be avoided with early diagnosis of the disease.