Cancer is one of the major non-communicable diseases, responsible for an estimated 8.2 million deaths globally. The number of new cancer cases is on the increase and is expected to rise by over 70% in the next two decades unless deliberate prevention and control efforts are put in place. Efforts needs to be put also to ensure that those newly diagnosed with the disease get high quality treatment at affordable costs.
In Kenya, cancer is a major public health concern with significant social and economic implications in terms of health care needs, lost productivity and premature deaths.It ranks as the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases and accounts for 7% of annual deaths. An estimated 47,887 new cases and 32,987 cancer deaths occur each year. Majority of cancer patients are diagnosed at late stages for a number of reasons including low levels of awareness amongst the public and this greatly contributes to the high number of people who don’t survive the disease.
The rising burden of cancer is attributable to a larger extent to behavioral risk factors which include tobacco use, consumption of unhealthy diets, insufficient physical activity and the harmful use of alcohol. These shared risk factors are unfortunately widely prevalent in Kenya and the public needs to be educated on the risks these behaviors pose.
The survivors undergo various challenges during treatment and after-treatment services. These challenges include:
- Limited access to cancer specialists
- Denial of health insurance and life insurance coverage
- Difficulty finding jobs
- Economic burdens due to mounting medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced productivity
- Emotional struggles resulting from such issues as strained personal relationships and fears of cancer recurring
Effects of cancer do not end with treatment and these challenges need to be adequately addressed if cancer survivors are to enjoy quality lives.
We are therefore carrying out a campaign to support over 200 cancer survivors in our support group. We have trained them on bead work, weaving, knitting cooking, and other simple chores and skills that enable them overcome financial and economic burdens. We have experienced increase in numbers of cancer survivors who are streaming into our support group but we do not have enough resources to train them on lifestyle and sustain their upkeep having depleted account during their treatment cycles.
We therefore appeal for well wishers to support this course and help the survivors sustain themselves.