Co-operative Bank and the Beth Mugo Cancer Foundation have embarked on a countrywide program of free cancer screening in a bid to identify in good time cases where early intervention can help.
The two, together with other partners held the second free screening at Lumakannda Primary School in Kakamega County where hundreds of people were also tested for blood sugar levels, blood pressure and related health needs.
The joint initiative was launched in January in Kisumu County, with Co-op Bank setting aside Sh10 million to be applied over five years for the programme.
“We appeal to other corporate institutions and Kenyans of goodwill to join hands and create a movement around the importance of early screening and testing for the key health challenges such as cancer and diabetes that continue to ravage our families,mainly due to very late diagnosis,” Co-op Bank Group MD Gideon Muriuki said.
The cost of treating cancer remains way above the reach of most households in Kenya, dealing a blow to efforts to save the lives of thousands of patients suffering from the disease.
A recent survey by the National Cancer Control Programme and the National Cancer Institute in three cancer centres in Nairobi including state-run Kenyatta National Hospital (KHN), and the privately-owned Nairobi Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital revealed deep financial strain for households with patients suffering from the four main strains of the disease — cervical, breast, esophageal and prostate cancer.
According to the survey, it costs between Sh172,000 and Sh759,000 to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000 to Sh1.25million if one undergoes an operation.Oesophageal cancer has been found to be the top killer cancer in the country with only 29 patients surviving out of 4,380 patients diagnosed annually.
In Kenya, cancer is now the third leading cause of deaths and second among non- communicable diseases accounting for seven per cent of overall mortality rate. The annual incidences are estimated to be 37,000 new cases with annual mortality rate of 28,000.