The County government of Machakos has launched the first ever county government-funded Cancer and Research Centre at the Machakos Level Five Referral Hospital at an estimated cost of Shs.40 million.
Speaking during the launch Thursday, Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua said the centre will offer for pathology, laboratory and chemotherapy services to the residents hence easing the burden of seeking the services elsewhere.
While cognisant of the fact that the cancer scourge is no longer a poor man disease, Dr. Mutua noted that its treatment and management only favoured the rich who can afford treatment out of the country.
“With the opening of this centre, residents of Machakos registered in the Universal Health Care programme will receive quality screening, diagnosis, counselling, chemotherapy treatment, surgery and cancer management free of charge,” said Dr. Mutua.
“Those from the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB) region of Makueni and Kitui will pay a small amount. Others citizens of this country will come and receive treatment with a very subsidszed programme that will be the cheapest in the country,” he added.
The Governor lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for his efforts in bringing affordable health care to Kenyans saying that Machakos is a good example that UHC can work.
He commended his wife Lilian Nganga who for the past six years has been championing for cancer screening in all the eight sub counties of Machakos adding that the launch came as a reprieve since it will now be easy to treat and manage the disease as well.
“Next year we will set aside Shs.300 million for the purchase of radio therapy machines. Our aim is to have several diagnostic and treatment centres spread across the county in the next 3 years,” said Dr. Mutua.
The Governor further revealed that the centre will utilise telemedicine in addition to partnering with hospitals, institutions of higher learning and other research institutions so that it can have experts working in the centre from all over the world.
While, acknowledging donations from the Kenya Cancer Foundation in setting up the cancer centre, Dr. Mutua however challenged the national government to implement its plans of setting up free cancer centres across the counties.
Speaking during the launch, Machakos Health County Executive Member in charge of Health and Emergency services Dr. Ancent Kituku Nzioka noted that cancer screening like Pap smear and education is very crucial in fighting the cancer scourge.
Dr. Nzioka who holds a Phd in Cancer pathology said the Health Marginalized Services team will go to every village to conduct cancer screening in addition to initiating new measures like cancer vaccinations.
He further added the center will partner with the Kenyatta National Hospital cancer experts in addition to conducting several workshops and cancer awareness campaigns across the county.
On her part Machakos County Assembly speaker Florence Mwangangi pledged her support to the center saying that the county assembly will continue to support the executive to execute its mandate.
Mwangangi called on the government and institutions of higher learning to dedicate more time and resources in research in a concerted effort to fight the cancer menace.
She further urged all stakeholders to ensure that the Athi River waters are protected from any form of contamination and poisoning citing it as one of the major causes of the disease.