New cancer cases to be reported within 60 days

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Healthcare providers will be required to report any newly diagnosed cases of cancer to the National Cancer Institute, effective September 1.

In a new directive by the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the said providers will be required to make the notification within 60 days of detecting a new cancer case.

The directive is for the purposes of maintaining the national cancer registry, in line with the Cancer Prevention Control Act.

“The notification shall be made in a secure web-based portal from a personal computer or a smart mobile device, from any location in Kenya,” Kagwe said.

All healthcare providers will be required to make an application for the National Cancer Register-Provider Access Credentials to the NCI-Kenya chief executive officer.

The NCI-Kenya was established in recognition of the need for more coordinated response to the growing cancer burden in the country.

The institution has been tasked with regulation of cancer care in the country and maintenance of the national cancer registry.

It is also mandated to provide public education and cancer awareness, research and development on cancer, capacity development for cancer prevention and control as well as advisory to the Health CS.

Cancer is the third-leading cause of mortality in Kenya.

Data from the ministry shows that about 50,000 new cases of cancers are registered in the country annually, 70 per cent end up succumbing to the disease.

That means 35,000 lives are lost every year, mostly associated with lifestyle, genetic factors, exposure to chemicals in the environment and hazardous agricultural practices.

Kagwe said a number of deaths are as a result of infrastructural and resource limitation in the healthcare sector.

Late diagnosis remains a key challenge.

Majority perish because their cancers are diagnosed at advanced stages, hence too late for curative treatment.

Data from Kenyatta National Hospital shows that about 64 per cent of cancer patients are diagnosed at advanced stages when treatment is difficult to achieve.

“We will tighten our mapping, enhance our prevention services and reverse the increasing incidents of breast, cervical, oesophageal, prostate or leukaemia cancer case that are consuming our people,” the CS said.

New cancer cases are expected to rise by about 70 per cent in the next two decades, with significant and rising economic effects.

Cancer care in the country at both national and county government levels has in the past years suffered from inadequate financing.

Even though up to 40 per cent of cancers can be prevented, Kenya continues to grapple with a high burden of risk factors. 

For instance, about 27.9 per cent of Kenyans are overweight and obese, while 94 per cent do not consume adequate fruits and vegetables.

“It is important to build the capacity of our health workers at the lower level to catch these cases early because if they are caught early then chances of the outcomes being better will be higher,” NCI CEO Alfred Karagu said.

Tobacco use among adults is about 13.3 per cent, while alcohol use is at 19.3 per cent.

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