CALL FOR SUPPORT

Senators want cancer patients to get monthly stipend

About 37,000 new cases are reported in the country every year

In Summary

• Legislators want the government to provide improvised breasts where applicable and a subsidy prostheses.

• They argue the support will be a big relief to thousands of patients who have been drained financially and can no longer afford necessities. 

Banner indicating free cancer screening
HEALTH THREATS: Banner indicating free cancer screening
Image: COURTESY

Senators are pushing for the provision of support services including a monthly stipend for destitute patients suffering from cancer.

The lawmakers want the Ministry of Health and county governments to create counselling services and provide the patients with free drugs and wigs for those who have lost their hair.

In addition, they want the government to provide improvised breasts where applicable and a subsidy for prostheses.

They argue the support will be a big relief to thousands of patients who have been drained financially and can no longer afford necessities.

“The Senate calls upon the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Council of Governors to incorporate cancer support services in their annual development plan,” the lawmakers said in a motion sponsored by Nominated Senator Gertrude Musuruve.

Currently, thousands of Kenyans are suffering from the disease, with those from poor backgrounds bearing the brunt as they cannot afford millions of shillings needed for treatment.

Cancer is the third leading cause of death in Kenya after infectious and cardiovascular diseases, with an estimated 2,800 people dying from the disease annually.

On Monday, Juja MP Francis Waitutu joined the list of high profile leaders who have succumbed to cancer.

Former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso and ex-Kibra MP Ken Okoth also died from the disease.  

It is estimated that about 37,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the country.

Rich families have been sending their kin to India and other countries aboard for treatment, an expensive undertaking for most families.

Locally, Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospitals are the only established public facilities providing cancer treatment.

“The economic impact of cancer is significant, and is increasing with staggering consequences occasioned by increased medical costs, lost income and the financial and emotional burden placed on families is immense,” Musuruve said.

The senator said that gaps in the existing legislative framework such as discriminatory practices in the form of coverage limits and bureaucracies by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and private insurance firms have compounded the misery of many families.

“These bureaucracies have resulted in delayed diagnosis, incomplete cancer treatments and inadequate follow-ups that contribute to poor outcomes for cancer patients,” she said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei shared in Musuruve push for a stipend and provision for other support services for the patients.

“Many families cannot even afford to have three square meals a day, yet treatment of cancer needs millions of shillings,” he said.

The legislator added that the besides the support, the country should spare a percentage of the budget to establish cancer treatment centres to alleviate pain on patients who have to travel all the way to Nairobi for treatment.

Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said there was a need for the government and counties to change their priorities and focus on what benefits its citizens.

“The Constitution stipulates that every Kenyan has a right to the highest attainable standards of health. We not only need to establish the centres, but we need cancer commodities to be subsidised if not made absolutely free. Kenyans pay taxes,” he said.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara