Economy

Late cancer detection ‘fuels poverty levels’

cancer
Namlola

Summary

  • Head of National Cancer Control Programme at the Health Ministry of Health, Dr Mary Nyangasi, said lack of knowledge on cancer had forced families into bankruptcy due to the high cost of treatment.
  • Dr Nyangasi, who also chairs the National Cancer Task Force, said the disease has become the fastest route to poverty due to the expenses involved.

Late detection of cancer has contributed to an increase in poverty levels among Kenyans.

Head of National Cancer Control Programme at the Health Ministry of Health, Dr Mary Nyangasi, said lack of knowledge on cancer had forced families into bankruptcy due to the high cost of treatment.

“When people visit cancer centres while at stage three or four, usually the best we can do is put them into chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These are not cheap,” she said.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting for media managers and practitioners at Serena hotel on Tuesday, Dr Nyangasi said a majority of cancer patients seek treatment when the disease has spread all over the body, making it expensive to treat.

“The implication of 70 percent of cancer patients being at stages three and four is that most of them fear they will die due to the cost involved.

“Had the same be noticed at stages one or two, a simple surgery that costs less than Sh100,000 would have helped,” she said.

Dr Nyangasi, who also chairs the National Cancer Task Force, said the disease has become the fastest route to poverty due to the expenses involved.

A report released by the World Health Organisation on Monday says an estimated 400,000 children and adolescents of up to 19 years develop cancer every year.

“Many studies have sought to identify the causes of childhood cancer, but very few cancers in children are caused by environmental or lifestyle factors. Cancer prevention efforts in children should focus on behaviours that will prevent the child from developing preventable cancer as an adult,” says the report.

On Tuesday, Dr Nyangasi urged parents and adults to observe some signs that are common for cancer. They include an unusual lump or swelling, especially in the neck, breast, belly, or testicle, unexplained tiredness and loss of energy, ongoing pain on one part of the body, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss, persistent coughs and abnormal bleeding.

“These signs could be confused for other illnesses. It is therefore important for people to screen for cancer at least twice in their lifetime. This will enable doctors to treat cancer at its early stages,” said Dr Nyangasi.

During the meeting, Media Council of Kenya Director of Training and Development, Mr Victor Bwire urged the media to make cancer a campaign agenda.

He said although economic models made sense, the best way to save Kenyans from poverty was tackling cancer through collaborative efforts of government and non-state actors.

[email protected]