Cancer patients will soon have access to affordable drugs following an initiative by governors to procure the medicines.
Governors Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Isaac Ruto (Bomet) and Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) said they want cancer patients to have access to health services closer home.
Currently, the patients travel long distances, hoping that the hospitals they are referred to offer better services.
“We have tried to push the Government to make the services free but it appears we will not succeed. We want to help our people who make several trips to Nairobi every month to seek treatment,” said Mr Ranguma, who is also the chairman of the Council of Governors Health Committee.
Mr Ranguma, who recently expanded the Critical Cancer Care Unit at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, said the county bosses will purchase the drugs to avert deaths caused by the disease.
“We are holding talks with Norvatis (a Swiss pharmaceutical company) to make drugs for non-communicable diseases affordable and available for residents.
The patients will pay Sh100 per treatment,” said Mr Ranguma in a telephone interview with the Nation.
Mr Awiti said since HIV/Aids cases are high in Homa Bay, the regional government will buy drugs for cancer related to the infection — Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Mr Ruto said most cancer patients seeking treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital are mainly from counties.
“I was touched by the number of cancer patients in my county and decided that I was going to bring affordable drugs. We already have drugs for prostate cancer and we are planning to buy others,” said Mr Ruto, who lost a daughter to blood cancer.
The governor said his government will open a cancer centre and purchase drugs to curb more deaths.
“I do not want what happened to my family to befall anyone in future. It was very painful,” said Mr Ruto.
“We are going to supply all the hospitals with affordable cancer drugs,” he added.
At the same time, the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency has announced that it will supply devolved units with cancer drugs.
Meanwhile, the National Hospital Insurance Fund has introduced a new package that will cover patients with chronic diseases.
Patients in need of chemotherapy will now get a cover of Sh25,000 per session and Sh18,000 for radiology.
Nearly 5,000 cancer patients die in Kenya every year.
Cancer is ranked the third highest killer in the country after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.
Seventy per cent of those affected are less than 70 years of age, according to a recent report.