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Daily Nation : February 4th 2014
34 | Advertising Feature MINISTRY OF HEALTH WORLD CANCER DAY Thеmе: ‘Dеbunk thе Myths’ By EVANS ONGWAE email@example.com W orld Cancer Day, observed today globally, shines a spotlight on a health challenge of growing epidemic proportions. It unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer. Cancer is now recognized globally as one of the leading non-communicable diseases. Second to cardiovascular diseases, cancers contribute to over 7.9 million deaths (13 per cent of total global mortality) each year and this figure is projected to rise to nearly 10 million unless the problem is addressed urgently. The aim of today’s global event is to save millions of preventable cancer deaths each year. This is by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. According to the Union for International Cancer Control, 7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years) – before marking their 70th birthday. For Kenyans, this day is of grave importance as the country is experiencing an epidemiological transition from communicable infections towards non-communicable conditions. Cancer in Kenya is the third largest cause of death after infections and cardiovascular disease and threatens to overtake the other two. Simply, cancer is on the increase in Kenya and it demands action from all to stem its incredible march. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 39,000 new cases of cancer were seen in Kenya in 2012, with 27,000 cancer-related deaths reported. In many developing countries, the rapid rise in cancers and other non-commu- DAILY NATION Tuesday February 4, 2014 MINISTRY OF HEALTH Adoption of healthy lifestyle key to cancer control An illustration of breast cancer nicable diseases has resulted from increased exposure to risk factors which include tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol and exposure to environmental carcinogens. Other risk factors for some cancers include infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS (Kaposi’s sarcoma and lymphomas), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis B and C (Liver cancer), bacterial infections such as Helicobacter Pylori (cancer of stomach) and parasitic infestations such as schistosomiasis (cancer of the bladder). It has also clearly emerged that unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, or being overweight are contributing to the cancer burden. Cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, with intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues and sometimes spread to other locations in the body via the lymph system or blood. Most cancers form a tumor (growth) but some, like leukemia, do not. The disease cannot be eradicated, but its effects can be significantly reduced if effective measures are put in place to control risk factors, detect cases early and offer good care to those with the disease. Cervical cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and leading in mortality. Cervical cancer is associated with high prevalence of HPV infection, coupled with a lack of screening services for prevention and early detection of the disease. Research shows that a model that integrates cervical cancer screening in the existing structures such as HIV Testing and Counseling Centres, Maternal Child Health services among others should be adopted. More awareness is required in the country for people to recognize some of the predisposing or risk factors associated with cancer and adopt healthy lifestyles. Health experts recommend that the National Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012 be implemented to sharpen the weapons forged against this scourge. Despite the fact that non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are on the increase, the health systems in the country have traditionally concentrated on the prevention and control of communicable diseases. As a result, health and development plans have not adequately invested in the prevention and control of these diseases. The silent epidemic of non-communicable diseases now imposes a ‘double burden of disease’ to the country which unless it is addressed will over whelm the country in the near future. This bias in the system has resulted in weakness in programmes that should be addressing non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in the country. Regular checks for early detection could save millions By EVANS ONGWAE firstname.lastname@example.org Individuals, as well as institutions involved in the fight against cancer can do much more to keep the disease in check. Lives can be saved through early diagnosis but this requires the availability of cancer testing infrastructure and personnel coupled with individual initiative to go for tests. According to the regional cancer registry at KEMRI, Nairobi, about 80 per cent of reported cases of cancer are diagnosed at advanced stages, when very little can be achieved in terms of curative treatment. This is largely due to the low awareness of cancer signs and symptoms, inadequate screening services, inadequate diagnostic facilities and poorly structured referral facilities. The country has a few cancer specialists who are, unfortunately, concentrated in a few health facilities in Nairobi. This makes it difficult for a great majority of the population to access cancer treatment services resulting in long waiting times. This prevailing situation causes some previously curable tumours to progress to incurable stages. The reason for this sad situation is that cancer treatment infrastructure in Kenya is inadequate and some cancer management options are not readily available, forcing some Kenyans to seek cancer treatment abroad. Within the health care systems, cancer is treated through medical, surgical or radiation therapy. Effective treatment requires that all these modalities of treatment be available in the same setting to avoid distant referral and delays in treatment administration. The essential drugs list does not include chemotherapy for cancer. Some of the very essential drugs for pain management are rare to find in most public hospitals. There is therefore a need for clear poli- cies concerning terminal pain management, supportive and palliative care for cancer patients in Kenya. Some of the main impediments to palliative care in Kenya include shortage of financial and human resources, lack of awareness and legal restrictions on the use and availability of opioid analgesics. Furthermore, cancer research in Kenya is not commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. This is due to inadequate funding and training facilities in cancer research. There is also no comprehensive cancer surveillance system and no population based cancer registry.
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February 5th 2014