Homabay Woman Rep wants cancer treatment included under primary health care

Homabay Women representative Gladys Wanga wants the Cancer Prevention and Control Bill to be amended to have cancer as a component under  primary health care.

Wanga who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2014 says the disease has become a major killer in the country because it is diagnosed late when it has advanced.

Her sentiments come a day after Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2017 succumbed to the disease.

“Chair this bill is so personal to me because I am speaking from experience. I was diagnosed with cancer and before diagnosis I could not tell what I was suffering from because sometimes the disease is there, and you do not feel pain. The main issues is that many people have been misdiagnosed because even the doctors themselves cannot tell from the onset that someone has cancer,” she said on Tuesday.

“When I sought treatment outside country, the simple things that a nurse was able to do there, can also be done here but we need to make it a primary healthcare to avoid late diagnosis which in turn becomes difficult to treat leading to deaths which would have been prevented.”

In a raft of proposals that she presented before the National Assembly Health Committee, Wanga further advocated for the training of more oncologists to deal with cancer.

“I would want each county to have at least one oncologist. The government should embark on funding training for oncologists so that we get more of them who can actually tell at an early age that indeed someone has cancer instead of being misdiagnosed with some vitamin deficiency and others being told they early and so on,” she said.

Committee members led by their Chairperson Sabina Chege (Murang’a Women Representative) welcomed her proposals which they said were timely.

“I want to thank you for this bill, and I am sure if cancer is made part of primary healthcare it is going to be given attention at that level.  If some of these cancer problems were diagnosed early some of the deaths that we have experienced would not have happened,” said Chege.

Her sentiments were supported by other MPs who pointed out that the disease is costing the country much and something has to be done.

“Cancer has become so dangerous and one of the major killer diseases in this country and the worst part is that it is only being diagnosed when it has already spread to different stages. I remember there is a former PS who was told he had allergy and months later he was found with cancer. My point is that this bill needs all the support that it deserves,” said Seme MP James Nyikal.

In the same breath, Mathare MP Timothy Oluoch is also sponsoring an Access to Health Bill through which he wants the government to provide government sponsored national hospital insurance to the vulnerable people in the society.

Appearing before the Health Committee, Oluoch argued that it is shameful for patients to be detained in health facilities due to unpaid bills.

He said everyone has the right to access health care services, including emergency medical treatment, reproductive health care as stipulated in Article 43(1)  (a) of the constitution.

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