The government is building four cancer treatment centres in Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri and Kisii.
Cancer of various kinds, from various causes, has been on the rise. Treatment and medication are costly.
Many people have organised fundraisers so they can seek treatment in India.
The government says the suffering must be tackled. The new centres will complement available facilities to improve the country’s capacity to handle the problem at home.
Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko yesterday said Kenya has an average of 38,000 new cases annually and 27,000 people die of cancer each year.
Introduction of the Universal Healthcare programme and the new centres will reduce cancer-related deaths significantly.
He spoke at the Panorama Hotel in Naivasha after opening a workshop on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The government in partnership with donors has invested heavily in tackling NCDs, which have been increasing.
“NCDs represent one in three deaths and up to a half of all hospital admissions in Kenya. Cancer, diabetes and hypertension are among the leading killer diseases,” Kioko said.
He attributed the increase in NDCs to unhealthy living, using tobacco and alcohol, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity.
The risk of dying prematurely from NCDs in low- and middle-income countries is almost double that in high-income countries.
“Despite mortality being high, the greatest calamity of NCDs is their potential to drive households into financial ruin owing high costs of treatment,” Kioko said.
Head of the NCD division Joseph Kibacho admitted that lack of funds has hampered the fight against NCDs.
He said unlike HIV-Aids and malaria, which have a budget, the war on NCDs is yet to be fully funded.
“For years, noncommunicable diseases were associated with the rich, but this perception has changed and the government has promised to address funding in the supplementary budget,” Kibacho said.
The division plans cancer screening at the grassroots to make it easier to diagnose and treat the disease — actually a cluster of diseases.
NCD Association of Kenya chairperson Eva Njenga said they have made strides in fixing emerging problems.
“We’ve done capacity-building for our members and empowered them in managing these diseases,” she said.