County plans radiotherapy unit at hospital to boost cancer treatment

The county government plans to set up a radiotherapy unit at the referral hospital to boost its cancer treatment services.

County health chief officer James Gitonga said they were in talks with Indian institutions to establish a cancer centre at the Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital.

He said that following a countywide screening campaign, there was increasing demand for cancer treatment.

“We partnered with Kenyatta National Hospital to acquire anti-cancer drugs at cheaper rates. Chemotherapy services have helped many patients cut on transport costs to Nairobi. Our plan is to have a full-fledged cancer centre with support from partners,” Dr Gitonga said.

He said the county’s chemotherapy unit was overwhelmed as it had attracted patients from several neighbouring counties, hence the need for increasing capacity on cancer treatment.

Dr Gitonga said that the county government had increased access to health care in the last four years through employment of more staff and improvement of infrastructure.

He said the number of doctors in Meru had increased from 86 to 146 while the number of nurses rose from 790 to 1,101 in the last four years.

“We have build 20 new dispensaries and eight health centres raising the number to 106 and 28 respectively. We have increased the number of maternity units from 36 in 2013 to 49 in 2016. We have seven operating theatres compared to three in 2013,” he said.

He said that residents can now access CT scans, ICU and dialysis services at the county referral hospital.

“We are also installing an MRI machine at the hospital. We have upgraded the Meru mortuary and are putting up three more morgues in the county,” he said.

He said budget for medical supplies in the county had rose from Sh33 million before devolution to Sh180 million increasing access to essential drugs.

According to the Meru County Integrated development Plan (CIDP), the county was to set up a cancer centre at a cost of Sh480 million.