The world marked this year's Cancer day on 4th February 2015, and Kenya took part by raising awareness throughout the country on preventive measures as well as treatment of diagnosed cases. EACLJ's mission is to defend life, freedom and liberty for all. It is therefore important to highlight the rising incidences of cancer in Kenya as well as the mechanisms adopted by the government to combat the deadly disease, as it is ranked third among the main causes of death in Kenya.
In Kenya, cancer treatment is an expensive affair with many poor patients deeming the treatment services to be beyond their reach, causing them to eventually succumb to the disease. The equipment in both public and private hospitals is limited, noting that some of the facilities are out-dated. As it is right now, the many Kenyans seeking cancer treatment have to wait for about two years before being served due to the depressing shortage of critical equipment. There is therefore need for the government of Kenya, through its Health Ministry to strengthen the fight against cancer.
Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health. It is therefore the government's duty to ensure that the cancer treatment facilities are upgraded and that such are made accessible and attainable by every Kenyan.
The enactment of the Cancer Prevention Act 2012 has brought optimism to cancer patients with the expectation that the access to medical facilities will now be attainable. It is also expected to help in tackling various challenges that have plagued the country's efforts against cancer such as; shortage of experts and physical infrastructure, poor records on the disease at the two hospitals with registries - Kenyatta National Hospital and the Moi Teaching and referral Hospital.
The new law introduces various new strategies including teaching school children on cancer preventive measures, and penalties against care providers who do not submit data on the disease. The Act also provides for the establishment of a National Cancer Institute aimed at fighting cancer. This is important as research is advancing and giving more information on causes of such diseases which needs to be communicated for prevention purposes. For instance, findings released recently show that women need to be cautious with the birth control pills they are using as some are exposing them to health risks. This is information that must be communicated to citizens and also the government has the responsibility of ensuring that medicine imported into the country is safe for consumption.
It is the hope of all Kenyan citizens that the government will provide a timely reprieve to cancer patients by facilitating a quicker decentralization of healthcare facilities in the 47 counties, so as to reach even the most marginalized patients and promote partnership in the public and private sectors in coming up with policies, advocacy and awareness program that will fight cancer.