Senator wants cancer patients to get stipend
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
The government could soon be compelled to provide cancer patients with a monthly stipend, free wigs, and improvised breasts, if a motion in the senate is passed.
Nominated Senator Gertrude Musuruve who filed the motion wants the national and county governments to provide the patients with free prescriptions and counselling services in conjunction with stakeholders.
If passed, the bill will provide a relief for cancer patients in the country who are burdened by the cost of treatment and other expenses related to the disease.
“The Senate calls upon the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Council of Governors to provide cancer patients with free prescriptions, wigs for those who have lost their hair, improvised breasts where applicable, and a subsidy for prostheses,” reads the motion.
The move, she said, is in line with the Constitution that states that everyone has a right to the highest attainable standards of health.
However, this is not the first a motion is filed in Parliament to address the plight of the cancer patients ravaged by the scourge.
Homa Bay Woman’s Representative Gladys Wanga last year sponsored a Bill to force all public health facilities to provide cancer treatment as part of primary healthcare.
In the bill, Wanga wants the Cancer Act changed to allow treatment of cancer at any health facility in the country.
The Bill has sailed through second reading in the National Assembly.
Most female cancer patients lose their breasts to the disease while others lose their hair during chemotherapy.
The lawmaker wants county governments to incorporate cancer support services in their annual development plan to allow for provision of budgets to support the programme.
Musuruve argued that the cancer patients undergoing harrowing experiences, with most families forced pushed to the wall – financially – in the treatment of their kin.
She added that gaps in the existing legislative framework such as discriminatory practices in the form of coverage limits and bureaucracies by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and private insurance firms result in delayed diagnosis, thus subjecting the patients to untold pain and suffering.
“Incomplete cancer treatments and inadequate follow-ups that contribute to poor outcomes for cancer patients have compounded the patients’ agony,” she said.
Musuruve is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2013, while studying for her doctorate.
At the time, she was a lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Cancer is the third leading cause of death in Africa, after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.
According to the World Health Organisation, only 50 per cent of low- and middle-income countries have operational National Cancer Control Plans.
In Kenya, cancer is estimated to be the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardio-vascular diseases, with the annual incidence of cancer closing in on 37,000 new cases with an annual mortality of 28,000.