The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Walk Today to Support Cancer Kitty

CANCER care and management has received a boost that will enhance knowledge provision and support for the survivors.

In a bid to fast-track public awareness and fight against the menace, corporate organizations have at the same time organized a walk today, aimed at sensitizing the public and rolling out free screening services.

Speaking at three events that were held yesterday as part of the public-private partnership, aimed at combating cancer, leaders stressed the need for consistency in initiatives aimed at tackling the problem.

At Faraja Cancer Support centre, which is situated next to MP Shah Hospital, Health Secretary James Macharia challenged corporate organizations to invest in palliative care and give survivors a lease of life.

"Let us think about the patients who are going through this condition," Macharia said and called for more investment into the health sector.

Accompanied by Senator, Anyang Nyong'o, former Vice President, Moody Awori and Safaricom officials, Macharia opened a studio at the centre for the patients.

The room was furnished by Safaricom to the tune of sh5.8 million, in memory of its senior director, Ivor Wekesa who succumbed to the cancer of bone marrow.

Cancer is an expensive disease to manage, with family and patients saying they endure physical, emotional and financial draining.

However, due to increased public knowledge and resources, Macharia says the effect of cancer is bound to be scaled down. Faraja offers free counseling, nutrition information, physical and emotional support to survivors battling with the disease.

Narrating her ordeal after testing positive, a cancer survivor, Jacky Gathumbe called on public to create support networks to advance hope on patients.

"This is a very scary disease, as the patients are normally afraid that they will die," she said and appealed on public to desist from stigmatizing the patients.

Despite having a new-born baby, Gathumbe was incapacitated and could not fend for her child as she was too weak for the daunting task of motherhood.

Due to lack of equipment and oncologists, patients are put on a long queues that lasts more than nine months, prompting most of them to succumb before the onset of treatment.

Kenyans spend an estimated sh10 billion annually towards specialized healthcare in foreign countries, especially India, due to lack of capacity locally.

Macharia regretted the loss of revenue and called for creative means of redirecting the funds to the health sector. He said plans are underway to establish 94 facilities to the tune of sh34 billion; two in every county to improve service delivery.

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