News that plans to supply subsidised cancer drugs and establish regional centres to ease congestion at referral hospitals have been shelved is a disappointment to millions of Kenyans.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) had advised the Treasury to set aside Sh5 billion for the two referral centres and Sh1 billion to subsidise the cost of drugs. But the Treasury has omitted the cash from the proposed budget because the allocation has not been subjected to ministerial consultations and Cabinet approval.
Cancer is the third highest killer in Kenya, accounting for seven per cent of deaths every year, behind infectious ailments and heart diseases.
Some 39,000 new cases occur every year and 27,000 die from the disease annually. Yet, interventions to ease the pain for patients and to make treatment and care - especially among the poor - accessible at a reasonable fee or no fee at all remain elusive.
Cancer care and treatment are among the least-funded health segments.
The enormity of the problem is laid bare in the fact that a huge chunk of the cancer patients are under 60 years, the most productive segment of the population.
We urge the officials at the Health ministry and the Treasury to include the cancer plan in the Budget for the financial year starting July 2019.