Cancer patients have called on the government to provide comprehensive coverage through the NHIF.
Mary Mwangi, a breast cancer survivor, said the NHIF only covered part of her treatment costs.
She said the most crucial part for a patient is the diagnostic stage. “We spend a lot of time chasing money as the cancer spreads to the next stage.”
Mwangi spoke at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Guidance and Research Hospital on Friday at the launch of the Comprehensive Breast Care Centre. The center provides a one-stop-shop for screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast care-related conditions, including breast cancer.
Mwangi thanked the government for the center at KU Hospital, but called for more services that would help patients reintegrate into society. She said many lose their jobs and businesses as they focus on their recovery, which sometimes leads to depression.
Breast cancer survivor Lucy Njeru said all counties should have cancer centres. She also called for early detection services which should all be under one roof.
Reiterating the need to have all services under one roof, Health PS Susan Mochache said, “This (centre) being the first of its kind in Kenya resonates strongly with our mission to reduce the burden of breast cancer by enabling diagnosis fast”.
The Ministry of Health also announced the signing of an agreement with Roche to launch the Herceptin SC access program. It will ensure that any patient diagnosed with breast cancer during screening and eligible for the drug will have access to it with all 18 treatment cycles fully covered as long as they have an NHIF card.
“This will ensure our women with breast cancer have access to the standard quality of care for breast cancer treatment,” Mochache said.
KU Hospital CEO Ahmed Dagane said the center is currently caring for an average of 20 patients a day. “From launch, we look forward to assisting at least 50 patients a day for screenings, early diagnosis and treatment.”
The center’s services include breast health education, clinical breast exam, mammograms, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI, among others.