The County government has broken ground for the construction of a Sh1 billion cancer centre to help improve treatment and care amidst reports of increased cancer cases.  

The first phase of the project, a radiotherapy centre, set to cost Sh350 million, is expected to be completed in two years.

Its completion and equipment could potentially save lives of thousands of cancer patients from the region, who die as they wait to get relevant services.

Data by the National Cancer Institute of Kenya shows whereas 60 per cent of the 40,000 a year new cancer patients require radiotherapy management, long queues at Kenyatta National Hospital has left patients staring at expensive alternatives in private hospitals or painful waits.

Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o exuded confidence in the facility's ability to help step up screening for early diagnosis, improved diagnostics, convenient and cheaper treatment and improved palliative care for those with advanced cancers.

“The commencement of construction of this radiotherapy centre sets us on a journey to establish a premier cancer centre that will be the focal point for comprehensive oncology management within the western circuit and other Lake Region Economic Bloc counties,” he said.

Speaking at the weekend, Prof Nyong’o said the county was actively looking for partners to help materialise the ambitious Sh1 billion health project described by officers from the Swiss world pharmaceutical giant Novartis and those from cancer institute as highly transformative. 

“With specialised cancer hospital, the first in the region, we expect to comfortably offer comprehensive oncology services covering radiotherapy, chemotherapy and palliative care to cancer patients across the region,” he said.

The facility is also expected to help transform Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) into a complete referral hospital, cutting the need to refer patients to KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

This will also see universities such as Maseno and Uzima train specialised doctors and nurses to offer services in this critical field.

Nyong’o said the facility would help the cancer-burdened county reduce deaths through access to population-based primary prevention, early detection, quality diagnostic, treatment and palliative care.

Kisumu and the region bears the biggest burden of cancer due to lack of awareness, misdiagnosis, late presentation to hospital and high cost of treatment, according to the county boss.

“We, therefore, want to focus on capacity building by embarking on comprehensive outreach programmes that will inform and educate our people on the benefits of early screening, diagnosis and risk education,” he said. 

The African Cancer Foundation, JOOTRH, Maseno and Uzima universities will steer this awareness.

Kenya Medical Directory healthcareinkenya.com