- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
Kenyans living in Eldoret and its environs can now access cancer treatment at the newly opened Eldoret Comprehensive Cancer Centre by the Equra Health Kenya, a provider of radiation therapy services in South Africa.
“The opening of the new centre represents a new dawn of quality cancer care in this region. The start of radiotherapy services is the fruit of many people’s hard work over the last 24 months, and we
are looking forward to serving the community in Kenya and surrounds with our quality service and excellent patient care. We believe that positive clinical outcomes matter most, and that value in healthcare is always a function of both the outcomes achieved and the cost paid for the services,” said Dr. Jesse Opakas, the main treating Clinical and Radiation Oncologist at the new centre.
In Kenya, cancer is the third highest cause of morbidity and death after malaria and pneumonia. Last year, there were 15,762 cases of registered deaths caused by cancer with an estimate of 39,000 new cases of cancer reported each year.The facility will serve a broader population of 20 million people across Western Kenya, Uganda and parts of Rwanda; many of whom previously would have had to fly or travel over five hours by road to Nairobi for treatment.
However due to lack of awareness, inadequate diagnostic facilities, lack of treatment facilities and high cost of treatment 70-80 per cent of cancer cases in Kenya are diagnosed in the late stages.
Plus, a lack of treatment facilities and inadequate diagnostic facilities has led to Kenyans seeking treatment abroad with the Ministry of Health reporting that over 10,000 cancer patients spend Sh11.28b in foreign hospitals.
According to the Kenya Cancer Network, there are only four treatment facilities in the country and all are in Nairobi- Kenyatta National Hospital, MP Shah, Nairobi Hospital and Aga Khan.
With the opening of the new cancer facility, Kenyan will now a new centre that offers access to world-class facilities with the latest radiotherapy equipment. The Eldoret Comprehensive Cancer Centre can treat up to 60 patients a day and brings advanced cancer treatment to the doorstep of a region that was largely under-served in terms of advanced radiotherapy.
The centre, which is located on the campus of the Eldoret Hospital, first opened its doors for oncology consultations, chemotherapy services and 24-hour in-hospital care in August 2016. It then began offering comprehensive radiotherapy, a first for Western Kenya, at the beginning of April 2017. Full services have been available since the beginning of June 2017.
It is equipped with a modern dual photon energy linear accelerator from Varian Medical Systems, a machine used to customize high energy x-rays or electrons to conform to a tumor's shape and destroy cancer cells. It has a 120-leaf multileaf collimator, used to provide conformal shaping of radiotherapy treatment beams.
And a high resolution electronic portal imager used to measure the x-ray intensity transmitted through a patient from a radiation port during a treatment session and is capable of treating patients with a wide range of electrons, 3D conformal external beam radiation and with Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).
The centre also offers high-dose rate brachytherapy (the treatment of cancer, especially by the insertion of radioactive implants directly into the tissue) with a new and modern after loader.