BIGGER THAN COUNTIES

Transfer health back to state for better cancer management

Frequent doctors' strikes show that counties have failed the sector

In Summary

• About 40,000 Kenyans are diagnosed with cancer annually, it kills about 15,000 people every year. 

• Governors and prominent leaders seek treatment abroad because they don't trust the doctors they train and hospitals they build. 

KNH doctors protest at the hospital at the start of their national strike
NATIONAL PROBLEM: KNH doctors protest at the hospital at the start of their national strike
Image: FILE

About 40,000 Kenyans are diagnosed with cancer annually, and the disease kills about 15,000 people every year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The national government should equip hospitals to offer better services locally. We have recently lost prominent people to the scourge including Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, Kibra MP Ken Okoth and Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso, who were all being treated outside the country.

In India, there are hundreds of cancer patients from Kenya alone. The government can no longer afford to bury its head in the sand. Approximately 10,000 Kenyans travel abroad every year in search of treatment and spend at least Sh10 billion in the same period, according to the Ministry of Health. This figure should prompt state to allocate more funds to recruit doctors, pay them well and further their studies.

 

A 2015 survey by the Ministry of Health found that 40 per cent of Kenyans who travelled overseas for treatment had renal diseases. At least 21.2 per cent had cancer, 11.8 per cent had a spinal disease, 5.6 per cent had joint and bone diseases, 1.9 per cent had connective tissue disorders, while 1.6 per cent had peripheral vascular disorders.

Patients go abroad because of the inadequacy of specialists, specialised equipment, long waiting periods and the high cost of local treatment. Governors don’t trust the doctors they train and the health facilities they build. This means that they do not believe in what they do.

Let health be returned to the national government as counties have failed doctors leading to frequent strikes and a subsequent lack of services. Screening for cancer should be made free, screening centres built and doctors treated better.

Mombasa