26 July 2012

Kenya: Cancer Act Will Not Bring Instant Help for Patients

The new cancer law that was assented to by President Kibaki seeks to compel the government to make cancer treatment free. Now, 82,000 people are ... ( Resource: Kenya: Benefits Of The New Cancer Law )

Cancer survivors will wait longer to benefit from the Cancer Control Act which became law this week.

The Act, which President Kibaki approved along with four other bills, compels hospitals to treat patients even without pay. Medical Services minister Anyang Nyong'o. has said cancer is the third highest killer in the country. Kenya Cancer Society yesterday urged the government to urgently gazette the Cancer Prevention and Control Institute, created by the Act, to coordinate all cancer control programmes in Kenya. "The most important thing is to put money into this institute and cancer programmes. The individuals, who will run this institute should also be appointed immediately," said David Makumi, deputy head of Kencasa and head of cancer programme at the Aga Khan University.

He said this might take longer because cancer is not funded independently in the current budget. Nyong'o, however, told the Star that the ministry has already set aside funds for cancer control in the current budget. "We are also looking at other sources of financing outside the government budget, so we do not have to wait until the next budget next year," he said, adding that,"We won't long to set up the board to run the institute as we are already working on the framework of the institute."

Nyong'o recently admitted only few hospitals can diagnose or treat cancer. He said 80 per cent of cancer cases in Kenya are diagnosed late when a patient's may not be saved for lack of facilities. Last year 28,000 cancers cases were diagnosed while 22, 000 people died of the disease, according the Kenya Medical Research Institute. The Act also makes it illegal for insurance companies and banks to force clients to screen for cancer before extending them health covers and loans. It was sponsored by Nyaribari Chache MP Robert Monda , who is also the chair of parliamentary committee on health.

Hospitals treating cancer patients will now be obligated to deposit the same information with the cancer institute within 14 days of diagnosis. Failure to submit the information attracts a fine not exceeding Sh200,000 or a jail term not exceeding two years. Cancer refers to a group of diseases where abnormal cells grow out of control forming tumours. These tumours often rupture into wounds and if untreated cause serious illness and death.

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