The Star (Nairobi)

8 March 2014

Kenya: Great News From Kenyatta National Hospital

editorial

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it is poetically fitting that we have just learned of a breakthrough in the treatment for cervical cancer.

The report has it that in clinical trials, carried out by scientists working at the nation's largest referral hospital, a drug commonly used in the treatment of HIV+ve patients was found to be capable of killing off the human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer.

Like all effective research in the 21st century, this breakthrough research was a collaborative effort involving not only Kenyan doctors and researchers, but also their colleagues from the University of Manchester's Institute of Cancer Sciences.

In Kenya, as in many developing countries, HPV-related cervical cancer is still one of the most common forms of cancer afflicting women, and leads to many deaths.

The fact that there is now a ready treatment, which involves neither surgery nor injections, is a huge blessing to all those who have been under threat of this deadly virus.

But even as we celebrate this good news, we must acknowledge that there is so much more that needs to be done. Women, along with children, bear a disproportionate burden of illness and life-threatening conditions, in most developing nations.

The maternal death rate in Northern Kenya, for example, remains unconscionably high, as does the infant mortality rate in the country. An estimated 50 per cent of all women giving birth, still do so outside hospital facilities, putting their health as well as the well-being of the newborn baby at risk.

All in all, there is a need to rapidly improve the health services available to women all over Kenya - and indeed this is a matter of fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

So, on this International Women's Day, as we celebrate the milestones of the achievements that have been made, let us also bear in mind the battles yet to be won, that still lie ahead.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "When knowledge becomes rigid, it stops living." Anselm Kiefer, is an artist known for his paintings, sculptures and photography. Born on March 8, 1945.

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