Plans by Kericho County government to set up a cancer centre in the region has begun after the devolved unit signed an agreement with a Belgium firm on Friday.
Governor Paul Chepkwony said the agreement with IBA Inc. will see the county acquire vital machines for treating cancer.
Prof Chepkwony said once established, the cancer centre, will offer affordable treatment in a bid to alleviate the burden of cancer treatment.
Categories of cancer treatment are only available in two major public hospitals – Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The Kericho facility will be built in partnership with the Texas Centre for Proton Therapy and the county is in the process of securing a deal with the United Nations to also support the project.
“We will not be taking a loan to finance this. Patients are desperately in need of this treatment since the available options are highly limited and the supply side cannot meet the demand,” Prof Chepkwony said.
The governor added that because of high costs in treating the disease, some people resort to alternative therapies such as the use of traditional herbal medicine and traditional incisions.
The county boss said the centre will provide alternative treatment options like proton therapy.
“The cost barrier to the ones available (chemotherapy, surgical interventions and radiotherapy), was also a reason why a majority of cancer patients are dying,” he said.
The centre will be another score for the county, which was last month praised for performing the first heart surgery.
“Therefore, the plan to have a proton therapy centre in Kericho is very important to us and the country at large.
"All referrals for radiotherapy in the country end up in one radiotherapy centre – KNH – with a ripple effect of massive congestion, delays and frequent breakdown of the radiotherapy equipment,” he observed.
At least seven counties have in the past four years performed milestone procedures, which included caesarean section births as well as brain and heart surgeries, most of which were once a preserve of major hospitals in the country and international health facilities.
From Embu to Lamu, Makueni to Garissa, Kakamega to Mandera, the counties have been lauded for improving access to healthcare through the provision of free maternal healthcare to expectant women and services to the elderly.
Some counties such as Garissa and West Pokot have been celebrated for increasing the number of deliveries at health facilities and reducing maternal mortality rates through a raft of innovative measures.
Garissa County introduced maternal shelters, kits, incentives for traditional birth attendants and community health workers and the use of WhatsApp messaging to connect health facilities.
Besides infrastructure, health has been hailed as one of the best success stories of devolution and the backbone of development in the regional governments.
The docket has, however, faced teething problems, including strikes by doctors and nurses and poor funding, affecting service delivery.