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Health CS Macharia concerned over rising cancer cases

30 January 2014, 08:15 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - Health Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia has raised concern over cases of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer saying they are on the rise hence the need for the government to increase its funding to fight them.

Macharia pointed out that cancer is ranked third killer disease noting that an estimate of 27,000 people die annually with over 705 of them being below 70 years of age hence impacting negatively on both individual families and the productivity of the nation.

“Over 80% of the reported cases diagnosed at advanced stages when very little can be done to manage the disease. This is because there is low awareness about the signs and symptoms, socio-cultural beliefs and practices, inadequate screening services and inadequately equipped referral facilities,” said Macharia.

“Also the few available specialists are concentrated around Nairobi making it difficult for the majority of people to access cancer management services,” he added.

Macahria stated that the government is aware of the alarming cancer situation and it is addressing the menace through the implementation of the national cancer control strategy.

He said the initiated strategy provides a roadmap to promote cancer control through early detection, improved diagnosis and treatment including palliative care, also by cancer surveillance, establishment of registries and research.

“Cancer is a condition that affects anyone and one that strikes across race, ethnic, gender, age, and socioeconomic status. The leading cancers for women in this country are breast, cervical and oesophagus, while among men is prostrate, oesophagus and Kaposi sarcoma,” stated Macharia.

Macharia said his Ministry has availed CT scan machines in five counties and in referral hospitals and that 11 mammography equipment have been purchased for county health centres.

He urged citizens to go regularly for cancer screening to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and shun from tobacco and alcohol consumption to reduce chances of cancer infections.      

The Control Unit Non-Communicable Diseases Division Director, Dr. Joseph Kibachio faulted the government for inadequate funding and paying little to the Non-Communicable diseases compared to Communicable ones such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis.

“Out of the 58 billion shillings set aside by the government for the Ministry of Health, no amount has been set aside for the NCDs,” said Kibachio.

Kibachio warned that ignoring NCDs has led to a significant rate of deaths with cancer alone killing more than 22,000 Kenyans annually. He added that the NCDs menace is a serious threat to the young generation noting that 60 per cent of Kenyans dying of cancer are bellow the age of 70.      

They were speaking to commemorate World Cancer Day in Nairobi.

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