By Lorraine Anyango.
Great hope lay in the fight against cancer after a tripartite agreement for the establishment of the Kisumu Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorders Center (KCCBDC) at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, in Kisumu was reached.
The tripartite agreement between the National Government, the County Government of Kisumu and Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital was signed yesterday by representatives of the three institutions.
The trio agreed to not only have the construction completed, but to also equip the facility with radiotherapy, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and other key hematological equipment and maintenance of the specified equipment.
As stated in the MOU, the facility will be accorded staffing of the requisite personnel to provide radiotherapy services as well as of technical support for the operationalization of the center.
The budget for KCCBDC stands at 165 million Kshs, so far about 102 million Kshs has been paid to the contractor with about 61 percent of the work done.
While signing the agreement, Sen Mutahi Kagwe EGH, representing the National Government through the Ministry of Health, committed to procure, install and commission a linear accelerator (LINAC), a brachytherapy machine, a CT simulator, and a PET-CT for the center as a grant to the county.
“We shall provide Kisumu County government with technical and administrative assistance required for the smooth implementation of this agreement to ensure eligible cancer patients access radiotherapy services they need.” He committed in statement.
The ministry of health also committed to consistently involve and update the County Government and its staff on the current policies, strategies and guidelines relevant to implementation of this Agreement.
It will also provide capacity building and technical assistance and follow up on adherence to set standards and guidelines.
Further in the MOU, Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral and Research Hospital (KUTTUR) committed to provide the relevant technical support during implementation phase to ensure the operationalization of the center.
Signing on behalf of KUTTUR, Dr Victor Njom committed that KUTTUR will also conduct regular specialist outreach clinics as agreed for mentorship of staff at the regional site.
Apart from constructing the KCCBDC, Kisumu’s county’s mandate is to plan to procure in due course of time at least another linear accelerator (LINAC) in addition to the one procured by the Ministry.
The county will deploy adequate clinical and support staff to run the comprehensive cancer center upon completion. These include officers with the requisite training and competencies in radiation/clinical oncology, medical physics, oncology nursing, therapy radiography, dosimetry, radiation protection and biomedical/maintenance engineering. Key support staff will include IT personnel and health records and information officers.
The county government will also ensure consistent supply of adequate medical supplies and consumables upon completion of the center and take up any other expenditure that is necessary to operationalize the comprehensive cancer center.
The construction of KCCBDC comes at a time when Kenya is currently implementing the second National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 which advocates for decentralization of cancer care (including radiotherapy) towards achievement of Universal Health Coverage.
The integrative approach applied at KCCBDC emanates from the fact that sickle cell disease (SCD) and cancer interventions share some aspects of technologies, expertise and equipment in the areas of diagnosis, service delivery, training and research. The two diseases are equally of major public health concern in the region.
Studies in the western part of Kenya (predominantly inhabited by the Luo and Luhya ethnic communities) have demonstrated high birth prevalence of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) at 3.2-4.5% which is about 3 times higher than the national prevalence. Sadly, a majority of children with sickle cell disease die undiagnosed with 50-90% dying before celebrating their 5th birthday. Again, approximately 80% of individuals with SCD are below 15 years of age meaning many do not live past 20 years of age.
Economically, sickle cell contributes to high productivity losses and exposes families to great financial risks while limiting their access to quality health services.
Cancer on the other hand is the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. “There is a documented annual increase in the incidence of cancer with projections that the number of diagnosed cases will continue to exponentially rise in the coming years. We need to prepare for this.” Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyog’o said
Additionally, available data indicates that about 40% of cases referred for treatment out of the county are due to blood cancers like leukemia. This is another area that this center will seek to address. The center seeks to be the first center in this country to offer comprehensive treatment for the blood cancers.
It is in recognition of all this that Kisumu County has set its eyes on revolutionizing cancer and blood disorders care for the lake region and Kenya as a whole – to offer quality and affordable essential cancer care.
Upon completion KCCBDC will serve the entire East and Central Africa Region and beyond, it will save patients from travelling to facilities outside the region like India, South Africa , USA and Europe and it will position Kisumu as a medical Tourism hub.