In Summary
  • The incidences of cancer in Africa have been on the rise yet received little attention from the public health practitioners.
  • The “Global Youth Tobacco Survey” indicates that more youths than adults in Africa smoke, exposing them to tobacco-related cancers.

Probably since only cases of prominent personalities who die of cancer get the limelight, there is a misconception that it is a disease for the rich and affluent.

Far from it. Statistics indicate that even the poor are not safe from the spectre of cancer — only that, for their lowly social status, most of them could have been misdiagnosed and perished without the true cause of death being established.

Shadowed by concerted efforts to fight HIV/Aids, cancer has stealthily emerged as the next big killer in Africa.

Let the government grasp the nettle and tackle this gruesome killer head on. First, the prohibitive cost of diagnosis and treatment is a major hurdle.

There is an urgent need for working cancer screening facilities, and qualified personnel, in all the 47 counties as well as a national cancer fund which should cover, among other things, subsidised cancer diagnosis and treatment.

A survey in the State-run Kenyatta National Hospital and privately owned Nairobi Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital reveals deep financial strain for families of patients suffering from the four main strains of cancer: cervical, breast, oesophageal and prostrate.

COSTLY

With the average annual income of about Sh600,000 for Kenyans, diagnosis and treatment for the disease for most Kenyans is a nightmare.

The data is telling: it costs between Sh172,000 and Sh759,000 to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000-Sh1.25 million if one undergoes an operation.

Basic treatment for breast cancer costs Sh175,000 to Sh1.89 million and up to Sh2.48 million with surgery, such as lumpectomy or mastectomy.

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