By Laventer Awuor
In 2019, Grace, a breast cancer survivor, began her challenging journey when she fell ill and was ultimately diagnosed at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital (JOOTRH). It all started with a small lump that gradually grew over time. Grace underwent a biopsy, revealing that she had reached stage III of breast cancer. Her story carries a strong message about the importance of having the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to ensure easy access to medical services.
Fortunately, Grace’s chemotherapy was covered by the NHIF, highlighting the crucial role this insurance plays in her treatment. She passionately encourages both ladies and women to consistently examine their breasts, as breast cancer can affect men as well.
The NHIF, led by Fred Onyango at the Russia hospital, is a vital partner in supporting oncology treatments. However, there’s a two-month waiting period after registering for NHIF. For NHIF to cover radio and chemo, a biopsy is necessary.
NHIF functions differently in different hospitals, hospitals are categorized into Group A (government, comprehensive), Group B (mission, comprehensive), and Group C (like Avenue and Agha Khan, non-comprehensive). In non-comprehensive hospitals, NHIF doesn’t cover the entire bill.
Pamela emphasizes the curability of breast cancer depending on early diagnosis. Navigators play a crucial role in bridging the care gap, and caregivers assist at the local level.
Chief guest Dr. Don Sande Ogolla, county director of medical services in Kisumu notes that more than 7,000 people are diagnosed with cancer, and over 3,500 succumb to breast cancer, making it the second most fatal cancer after cervical cancer. Breast cancer affects people of all ages, including children. The effectiveness of cancer treatment depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed, underscoring the importance of regular screening.
Governor Anyang Nyong’o’s manifesto highlights the significance of Community Health Promoters (CHPs), with 2,956 CHPs in Kisumu. Their role is to identify conditions that can be treated when detected at a young age.
He also said that they are planning on building wellness Centers. The Wellness Center is a clinic that offers services like weight measurement, blood pressure and sugar level testing, and exercise equipment similar to a gym. This helps people maintain their health without having to visit a hospital for minor concerns.
Primary health care is a priority in Kisumu, with five sub counties working on this front. Their goal is to provide Marwa, which is an NHIF, to 21,000 people. However, last year, only 5,000 people were enrolled, falling well short of their target.