The fight against breast cancer in the country has received a major boost after a new comprehensive breast care centre was launched.
The new centre put up at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) hopes to enhance quality cancer diagnosis, treatment and patient care across the country.
The centre was established at a time the country is experiencing spiralled cases of breast cancer with statistics showing that at least 6,799 cases are reported annually while 3,107 cancer victims have died yearly.
Speaking after launching the centre that will provide one-stop-shop care for patients, Susan Mochache the principal secretary in charge of the Ministry of Health revealed that while up to forty per cent of all cancers can be prevented, there is a need for stakeholders to continuously rethink breast cancer disease counter strategies and accord more focus on prevention, which has been shown to be the most cost-effective way of fighting the deadly ailment.
She also revealed that the government had put in place measures to strengthen its health system to ensure that all Kenyans receive equitable and accessible cancer prevention and control services.
Mochache further rooted for early screening of the disease in line with the Breast Cancer Action Plan, whose goal is to ensure that 90% of women with breast cancer are diagnosed in early stages for timely management.
“Current evidence denotes that screening and early diagnosis remain the cornerstone for controlling breast cancer. Promotion of breast health awareness and education of women on what they can do to prevent breast cancer is paramount in the early detection of this disease,” she said.
“The Ministry of Health is continuously putting in efforts to raise awareness on breast cancer and has made tremendous efforts in the prevention and control of cancer. We seek to comprehensively address cancer control through the systematic implementation of evidence-based interventions for prevention, screening, timely diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care, financing, monitoring, and research,” she added.
Her sentiments were echoed by KUTRRH CEO Ahmed Dagane who insisted that early detection of cancers improves the chances of successful treatment and ultimate survivorship.
Dagane noted that the new centre will enable breast cancer patients to access quick and affordable diagnostic tests, scans, and results within 60 days of presentation. He also revealed that the centre is currently providing subsidized services in mammography at Ksh2,000, breast ultrasound at Ksh1,500, breast MRI at Ksh25000 and staging PET/CT scans for those without the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover at Ksh18,000.
Olive Mugenda, the KUTRRH board chairperson who was represented by Gladys Ogallo rooted for enhanced research to find out more about cancers so that there is a continuous development of care.
She insisted that KUTRRH will continue identifying undiagnosed cases and asymptomatic cases.
Speaking at the same event, breast cancer survivors narrated a myriad of challenges they have been grappling with during their treatment journey.
While singling out the catastrophic health expenditures as one that has pushed many into poverty and depression, the survivors further regretted the stigmatization of breast cancer patients who are not only neglected but also ignored by society.
Led by Mary Wambui and Lucy Njeri, the survivors called on the government to expedite the establishment of comprehensive coverage of breast cancer treatment by the NHIF to reduce the burden that patients are forced to bear.
Also present at the function was Switzerland Ambassador Valentin Zellweger who insisted that the new breast care centre offers hope to thousands of Kenyans who have been struggling to seek treatment.