FROM TWO TO EIGHT DAILY

Awareness campaign causes rise in Nyeri breast cancer screening

Some 15,000 women reached during a five-week mammography examination drive

In Summary

• Some 15,000 women were engaged during the five-week mammography screening campaign across the county which has now been concluded.

• DG Karugu said data from Nyeri mammography campaign indicated that 88 per cent of the patients had never taken a mammogram exam previously.

Kenya Pipeline Company Foundation manager Bernice Lemedeket presents a Sh5 million cheque to Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu to be used in holding cancer screening camps on Wednesday
Kenya Pipeline Company Foundation manager Bernice Lemedeket presents a Sh5 million cheque to Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu to be used in holding cancer screening camps on Wednesday
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI
Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu addresses the media in Nyeri on Wednesday.
Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu addresses the media in Nyeri on Wednesday.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

The number of people visiting the Nyeri County Referral Hospital for breast cancer screening has increased from two to eight daily, following an awareness campaign last year. 

The breast cancer awareness drive was done in October and November. 

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said on Wednesday that this was a great improvement compared to the same period in 2018.

Some 15,000 women were reached during the five-week mammography screening campaign across the county. 

The campaign was organised by the Nyeri government, the Ministry of Health, the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and GE Healthcare.

It was meant to inform residents about the availability of the mammography services at the county.

The drive also aimed to shape perceptions by increasing knowledge on the need for proactive screening for women aged 40 and above.

“The campaign involved awareness sessions around the county, training of 50 community health care volunteers and 30 professionals to ensure the sustainability of the programme,” Karugu said.

The professionals, she said, were trained alongside the new released MOH (Ministry of Health) guidelines for cancer screening.

 The DG said vehicles were sent to the villages to ferry people to the referral hospital for mammography and education.

Karugu said if this is replicated across the other 46 counties, it will greatly help in the fight against breast cancer.

She said data from the Nyeri mammography campaign indicated that 88 per cent of the patients had never taken a breast examination.

 

Residents said they had not undergone the test because they didn't show any symptoms to prompt them to see the doctor.

Others said doctors had never recommended such an exam.

This had led to an underutilisation of the mammography services at the county referral hospital.  

“Some 99 per cent of the patients we saw during the campaign had a good patient experience and had comfort during the mammogram exam,” she said.

Karugu spoke at the Nyeri County Referral Hospital when she released the result of the breast cancer awareness campaign survey.

A baseline study had indicated that out of ten cancer cases that were being treated at the Hospital, seven were of the breast.

Patients were also getting to the hospital while at very advanced stages of the disease.

The DG said many people did not know that they could visit the county referral hospital and get free services. 

She said following the introduction of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a mammogram which used to cost Sh 3,500 at the hospital can now be done for free.

However, Karugu said there are myths that have been a great barrier to women seeking breast cancer screening and the process of biopsy.

“Many believed if the biopsy exam is done on a person, then cancer will move from one position to the other,” she said.

She called on women to ignore the myths and go for screening.

The DG recommended an annual compulsory medical checkup for all citizens as the national government prepare to rollout UHC in other counties.

This should be a condition before the renewal of the cover, she said. 

 The second part of the campaign, she said, was reaching out to private partners to partner with the county so as to ensure that the messaging of cancer and drawing people to the attention of screening is sustained.

Karugu said that the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) had donated Sh5 million to continue the campaign. 

(edited by O. Owino)