Kenya:Tackling cancer and other non-communicable diseases
Tackling cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCD) is a top priority for Kenya’s Ministry of Health. With NCDs accounting for approximately one-third of Kenya’s disease burden and the World Health Organisation projecting that NCDs will become the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, there is a pressing need to help improve the rates of early detection, diagnosis and treatment.
While NCDs include various chronic conditions, such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, of major concern is the growing rate of cancer. Cancer ranks as the third leading cause of death in Kenya, after infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease, accounting for seven per cent of deaths each year. However, as data is limited, the true scale of the problem is unclear. Research shows that at least one-third of cancer cases are preventable.
Oesophageal cancer is the top cause of all cancer deaths in Kenya. Breast cancer accounts for the highest number of new cancer cases among Kenyan women, and prostate cancer the highest number of cases for men. Stemming the rise of cancer through oncology services is key to winning this battle.
The job of treating cancers is made easier by early detection, and monitoring the disease during treatment can go a long way in saving lives. However, there is often a long waiting time for cancer screening services. Some patients wait up to six months for treatment, which may result in the cancer spreading.
In response to the epidemic, a new 105-bed cancer hospital is being built in Nairobi, with plans to open by 2017. The Sh2 billion Telsa Cancer Hospital will provide world-class oncology services to patients, offering the latest diagnostic technologies and approaches for improved cancer care, all under one-roof.
“With the rapid rise of cancer and other forms of non-communicable disease in Kenya, there is a significant opportunity to strengthen health services to improve standards of care. This hospital will help Kenyans across the country many of whom have been financially and emotionally affected by the impact of disease. We will also improve the skills level of medical professionals in our community,” said Dr. Daniel Githegi, Chairman of Tesla Cancer of Hospital.
As Tesla Cancer Hospital’s technology partner, GE Healthcare will provide the latest GE imaging technology, which will help doctors and patients with confidence in diagnosing. The specific imaging technology GE will provide is Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance (MR), Computed Tomography (CT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET / CT).
GE will also deliver a comprehensive clinical solution including the installation of Kenya’s first cyclotron and the establishment of a Radio pharmacy Unit at the hospital. This pharmacy will allow for the administering of drugs that assist greatly in diagnostics and identifying problems that may exist within a person’s body. These drugs can also be used as a form of therapy, particularly for cancer.
“Through providing diagnostic services that enable the early detection of cancerous tumours, the programme will help tackle Kenya’s cancer challenge head-on,” said Isiah Okoth, General Manager of GE Healthcare in East Africa. “The full-service solution will enable doctors to locate and see tumour presentations and allow physicians to personalise cancer treatments and management decisions.”
Dr. Gladwell Kiarie, an oncologist with over 20 years of experience in cancer treatment in Kenya and a Technical Adviser with Tesla Cancer Hospital, observed that PET/CT scanner plus its supportive equipment is one of the most sought after diagnostic tools in modern cancer treatment.
“Having a PET/CT Scan in Kenya will be a positive influence to inbound medical travel and limit outbound medical tourism,” said Dr. Kiarie adding that Tesla Cancer Hospital will provide high end diagnostics and management services in collaboration with a strategic oncology partner.
The new Telsa Cancer Hospital will equip doctors in Nairobi with the latest diagnostic technologies and approaches in oncology treatments, all vital steps in the battle against cancer.