Komorebi Post– in Kenya, there are only two public facilities, which offer cancer treatment to Kenyans. One of them is the Kenyatta National Hospital Cancer Treatment Center (CTC) where the poor access advanced comprehensive treatment for cancer. There is about 39,000 new Cancer patient per year, according to medical health statistics which presents a high demand for services, these cancer patients regularly experience a delay for months to see a doctor. This results in one of the biggest challenges is getting a diagnosis- and in most cases, late in the third or forth phase.
It is an early hot afternoon; some patients choose the floor instead of their hospital beds. Ms. Elizabeth Njoki is one of the people lying on the floor playing around with her ill daughter. Njoki is a single mother of two, discovered that her daughter had cancer following a diagnosis early last year. At least it was at an early stage, therefore, the baby had to go through subtotal gastrectomy surgery. Before this, the daughter had been misdiagnosed with pneumonia and was not responding to drugs.
The two have been in the hospital for a whole month and the doctor has not yet attended to them. This national hospital has only one functional cancer doctor. For this reason, Ms. Elizabeth has been forced to join the long queue of cancer patients waiting for their turn.
The problem is that she may even have to wait for more than three months before an oncologist sees her daughter. We all know that cancer does not wait until a person starts to receive treatment.
Ms. Njoki is afraid that she might lose her daughter anytime.
Cost of Treatment
When asked why she was not seeking alternative help, for example, seek treatment at a private hospital, Ms. Njoki said that it was way too expensive for her to afford.
The cost of treating cancer remains way above the reach for the most household in Kenya. it costs between Sh172,000 and Sh759,000 (1,511- 6,672) Euros to treat breast cancer without surgery. The cost excludes rehabilitative care and any further research conducted within treatment.
Low-income countries like Kenya are bearing the biggest burden of this disease. This is due to lack of awareness, treatment, or modernized equipment, misdiagnosis, and the high cost of treatment. Ms. Njoki explains:
“I still can’t go back home; my child has not yet been attended to by the doctor. I have literally been struggling to make ends meet, spent all my savings on drugs. I cannot go to work as I have to be with her at the hospital since her condition cannot allow me to work.”
Seeking cancer treatment in Kenya adds up on the cancer difficulties, where most patients are forced to raise funds through different means like crowd fundraising, debts etc. for their expensive treatment.
Limited Cancer Equipment
The lack of quality equipment is evident by the plight of Njoki, whose daughter was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year. However, by the time the daughter was being diagnosed, Njoki had already spent a lot of money on tests, X-rays, and scans. This was after spending a lot of money in her local hospital where the baby was wrongly diagnosed with pneumonia.