NHIF

Joint efforts between NGOs and state can stop cervical cancer

Partnerships between state, organisations and the citizens can save a life

In Summary

• Lacking treatment options makes a patient lose more hope in ever recovering.

• Concerted efforts can bring hope.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta reads her acceptance speech after Kenya's nomination as the 2015 host country for the 9th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostrate Cancer in Africa Conference
CANCER MENACE: First Lady Margaret Kenyatta reads her acceptance speech after Kenya's nomination as the 2015 host country for the 9th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostrate Cancer in Africa Conference
Image: PSCU

When a patient in Kenya is found to have cancer specifically of the cervix, she feels like it is the end of the road for her.

Her family becomes stressed on how to go about the treatment that is very expensive; a poor family would not be in any position to cope with it.  Such circumstance befell Ruth Aoko when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her world darkened for a while and many rhetorical questions ran in her mind that she was emotionally drained, not knowing what to do. But a glimmer of hope came to her at that moment of crisis when she almost gave up. 

A non-governmental organisation, Smile Woman community-based organisation stepped up campaigns to bring to attention the cervical cancer menace. The burden of cost of treatment was contained by a partnership with the National health insurance fund. It covered Aoko’s and 38 other patients. Through NHIF health financing priority, the cover for cancer the chemotherapy, radiotherapy CT and MRI scan and monthly check up is provided.

The cover provides Sh691 million for chemotherapy, Sh96 million for radiotherapy, Sh667 million for MRI and Sh368 million for a CT scan. A majority of patients cannot afford to get the cover at Sh500 per month. The partnership was a positive gesture because of stakeholders at the Migori county who developed innovative ideas that are important in solving many challenges such as Ruth’s.  Her cost of treatment amounted to Sh76 million that Smile Woman raised, for the next three years they will not wonder, where the money for treatment would come from. 

This was a successful partnership but more needs to be done to prevent getting to that level. The NHIF card would help them to get treatment for radio and chemotherapy. Rural women, when they cannot afford to seek treatment, opt for alternatives that are riskier and can lead to death. In the future, it would be more productive to roll out a broad screening programme to detect cancer at manageable stages; young females also need to be educated on the importance of going for cancer screening to prevent dealing with it when it is too late to do anything.

The programme would easiest work in institutions of learning like is done sometimes, but all females should be screened for the disease. The World Health Organization says 90 per cent of cervical cancer deaths occur in middle and low-income countries, like our own.

With proper knowledge on one’s condition, it is easier to manage it at early stages when not much needs to be done and not a lot of funding is required to be put into treatment. It would reduce lives lost to the menace because one did not know they had it until the 11th hour.

No woman needs to die because of the cost of treatment for cervical cancer.