The government has allocated Sh17 million for establishment of National Cancer Registry Programme by 2019.
The registry will be run by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and is expected to help the Ministry of Health gather accurate data and keep surveillance of the burden of cancer at country and county levels.
Speaking at the launch of the National Cancer Registry Programme in Nairobi, Kemri’s acting Director Gerald Mkoji said they decided to form a centralised registry by merging existing ones in Nairobi, Kisumu and Eldoret.
The national system will help to map the disease pattern in the country.
“There was need to strengthen the existing population-based registries and merge them into a centralized system,” explained Dr Mkoji.
Dr Mkoji said the country’s estimates drawn from the three centres may not necessarily give the exact representation of the burden of cancer on the ground.
The disease has been ranked as the third leading killer, with 41,000 new cases being diagnosed and 28,000 deaths recorded annually, while Nairobi County alone accounts for about 3,000 new cases annually.
The Nairobi and Eldoret cancer registries have been providing data on cancer in Kenya.
According to Dr Robai Gakunga, a researcher at Kemri, one of the major challenges, the registry has been facing is with hospitals, especially private ones, which are unwilling to provide data on the number of patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.
“At times when we go to these hospitals to request for the information we need to compile the data, we are turned down. In such cases, there isn’t much that we can do,” said Dr Gakunga.
She also pointed out lack of budgetary support from the government as a challenge that the cancer registries are facing.
“We do not have enough staff to do the job and the few skilled staff we have are not well paid,” she said.
The budget allocation for the new national registry is seen as a boost towards fighting cancer. Earlier this month, acting Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko announced that the government had allocated about Sh6 billion to build cancer centres in four regions in the country.
Mr Kioko said the centres would be built in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Nyeri counties.