Cancer is increasingly becoming an emerging challenge in the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Fatma Abdalla a Pediatric Oncologist and a member of The Task Force on National Values and
Medical Practitioner’s and Dentist Board. She was speaking during the launch of the Africa Cancer Foundation on the 12th July 2011 at the Laico Regency Hotel.
Just like HIV and AIDS, cancer does not discriminate against sex, age and race, religion, cultural and socio-economic status. Cancer can occur independently of HIV or as an
Opportunistic Infection in people living with HIV. Similarly, just like HIV cancer is shrouded in so many misconceptions and myths which include belief that
cancer is caused through sex, it is a sin, a curse and a punishment from God for wrongful deeds done.
“My initial reaction was like I have been given a death sentence because it is something that happens to other people,” says Rose Ochwada a breast cancer survivor.
According to Dr. Abdalla, 50 people die every day due to cancer while 80,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in Kenya every year with the number expected to rise by 5%. This
is largely due to the fact that access to diagnostic and treatment facilities is hard and not affordable for a large part of the population and also the general
public has little or no information on cancer prevention and the possibility of treatment.
Some of the major challenges cancer patients are faced with include late diagnosis, inadequate cancer care facilities; high cost of treatment; no insurance cover; lack of
patient support and costly dietary requirements and poor counseling and psychological care.
“It is my hope that the government will soon address these issues as the disease affects a growing number of people, “added Ms. Jane Likimani a cervical cancer survivor
Cancer is a health burden that can no longer be ignored as it kills more people globally than HIV& AIDS, TB and Malaria. In Africa it is a burden to the healthcare
system which can become more overwhelming than HIV& AIDS especially if not tackled earlier enough. Many people take their health for granted and some die from cancer without even knowing it,
while others think they cannot get cancer because it belongs to other people.
It is argued that some cancers arise as a result of lifestyle changes in terms of the food people eat, the places live in and the manner in which people organize their daily activities. These
changes might arise due to poverty, misuse of material wealth or genetic pre-disposition.
“All this issues should be the subject matter of public education, social engineering and the quest for proper well being,” said Kenya’s Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga.
The most common cancers found in adults regardless of their HIV status include Kaposi’s sarcoma, cervical, prostrate and liver cancer. In terms of mortality, cervical cancer
still leads but through vaccines this cancer can be effectively stopped from ravaging women. Women were urged to go for cancer screening because unlike HIV,
Cancer can be treated if detected earlier. Dr. Abdalla urged people to follow on simple measures which would improve or change their lifestyles and as a result
prevent them from getting cancer. These measures include, regular exercises, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, eating
plenty of fish, not smoking, practicing safe sex especially the ABC of HIV and vaccinating against hepatitis and HPD virus.