Rising cancer cases hit Coast General Hospital

Cancer patients at the Coast General Hospital yesterday /PILI CHIMERAH
Cancer patients at the Coast General Hospital yesterday /PILI CHIMERAH

The Coast General Hospital is overwhelmed by cancer patients, with the facility’s oncology centre receiving between 14 and 21 patients per day.

The hospital’s cancer centre has only seven beds and lacks a radiotherapy unit. The centre was opened last December.

The lack of a radiotherapy unit means patients have to travel to Nairobi for treatment.

Amina Museni, a patient undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital, said travelling to Nairobi is expensive and hectic. The closest public radiotherapy is at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. A session at a private hospital costs Sh10,000.

“Travelling to Nairobi also requires the patient to organise where he/she will stay. You must also have a relative accompanying you,” Museni said. She urged the government to put up a radiotherapy unit to to ease cost of treatment.

Mombasa health executive Hazel Koitaba yesterday said they are planning to build a radiotherapy centre with enough space for patients.

The centre will be built in three phases.

“The first will involve training and the second phase would be on the infrastructure which would entail building of three radiotherapy units,” Koitaba said.

He spoke after a tour of the hospital. The county is already training three oncologists. “They will be ready to operate the radiotherapy unit in three years,” Koitaba said.

The centre has only three oncologists. Clinical oncologist Abdhulrahman Abud said the lack of a radiotherapy unit is a challenging to the region especially for patients who have to undergo concomitant chemoradiation.

Concomitant chemoradiation is where the patient has to undergo both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is mostly done to patients who have head and neck cancer.

“It involves giving the chemotherapy while the radiotherapy is in session,” Abud said.

Coast General Hospital is the biggest refferal facility in the region and serves patients from as far as Lamu and Tana River counties.