Quality and affordable healthcare is one of the most sought after needs in any nation, and one of the most targeted accomplishment by any government globally. On a scale of ‘Important to not-so-important’, one can be sure that the former trumps the latter in the must-do lists of health ministries and departments in most government administrations. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see President Uhuru Kenyatta include Universal Healthcare as one of the arms of the Big Four Agenda. Development can’t be achieved without a healthy nation and willing workers who aren’t hampered by poor medical services delivery whenever the need arises. Healthcare covers a wide scope, and treatment offered caters for the common and less known diseases, which may pose as killer diseases or draining conditions, but for Kenya, the queue of killer diseases has maintained an ever bulging suspect, cancer.
With at least 39,000 new cases of cancer detected each year, it is the third leading cause of morbidity in Kenya, with approximately 7% deaths each year. A recent study indicated that 60% of the people affected by cancer are younger than 60 years old, with breast cancer and cervical cancer being dominant in women, while men are mostly diagnosed with prostate cancer and Esophageal cancer. These stats can highlight the horrid nature of a disease which had gone under wraps in the past, and surprisingly, is still being neglected by many Kenyans, who may see it as a rather irrelevant health factor. If you were to conduct a random self-imposed questionnaire, an interesting fact may be revealed. One may notice that he or she knows someone personally, who is suffering from cancer, or someone who succumbed to cancer and other facts which may reveal the tight-knit effects it has imposed on the society.
Even as the government sets out to establish different development projects and further enact the Universal Healthcare systems under the Big Four Agenda, the cancer thorn shouldn’t be set aside in favour of another. It’s a situation that calls for more scrutiny, not only of lifestyles, as some people suggest but also of the infrastructure set up to deal with this seemingly slow and steady purge. County hospitals should be well equipped to deal with cancer cases, and there should be more qualified personnel in our hospitals. It’s unimaginable if infectious and cardiovascular diseases are given the required attention, and cancer is shoved to the ‘waiting seat’-and we all, with folded hands, hope that doesn’t happen-because the number of deaths may hit astronomical figures in a few years time if action isn’t taken swiftly. What is the point of setting up roads and other infrastructure if the common mwananchi is staring at his chances of using them slip away? The effects may also trickle down to a lopsided workforce in some sectors, as more and more are taken in for treatment and tidal strength in the workforce is lessened. The government’s Big Four Agenda is a great initiative, which if well implemented will touch the lives of many, but the undercurrent blockages that may mar its effects must be dealt with, and cancer should be given notable attention.