President Uhuru Kenyatta and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi have opened talks that will lead to hospitals from the Asian country setting shop locally and stop the flow of Kenyans seeking treatment abroad.
The move by the two leaders is aimed at lowering the cost of medical services for Kenyans, who have been travelling to India to seek treatment for deadly diseases such as cancer and kidney ailments.
The President and the premier said the two countries are ready to work together in the transfer of skills to strengthen Kenya’s capacity in the provision of specialised health services to lower the burden for the increased number of Kenyans seeking treatment abroad.
More than 10,000 Kenyans travel abroad each year seeking treatment for various ailments, especially cancer, with government statistics indicating that this costs Kenya about Sh10 billion annually.
“The two leaders supported the setting up of specialised medical facilities by Indian companies in Kenya to reduce the cost of medical services and make it convenient for those requiring the services,” said a statement from Mr Kenyatta’s press office.
President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Modi spoke when they held bilateral talks yesterday at Hyderabad House, the official residence of the Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi.
Kenyans are turning to India for specialised treatment, especially for heart, cancer and kidney related ailments because the Asian country has one of the best doctors and advanced medical equipment globally.
Cancer is the third leading killer disease in Kenya after malaria and pneumonia, according to the 2015 Economic Survey.
The official data show that reported deaths from cancer have been on the rise recently, climbing from 11,995 in 2010 to 12,574 in 2012 and 14,175 last year.
But World Health Organisation reckons that of the approximately 41,000 Kenyans diagnosed with cancer annually, about 28,000 die.
Deaths from malaria, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis have been declining over the same period, reflecting the public health crisis brought home by cancer at a time when the country is reeling from shortage of doctors and equipment that can handle the deadly disease.
President Kenyatta is in New Delhi to attend the Third India-Africa Forum Summit that began on Wednesday.
Mr Kenyatta welcomed India’s partnership in the areas of oncology (treatment of tumour) and cardiology, saying the move would make the services more accessible to Kenyans.
Kenya has a relatively poor public health infrastructure plagued by a shortage of doctors, a lack of essential drugs and medical equipment. For instance, there are only 12 oncologists (cancer specialists) in the public sector.