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Relief as KNH cancer therapy set to resume next week

By WINNIE ATIENO September 4th, 2015 2 min read

A radiotherapy machine at Kenyatta National Hospital that broke down on Tuesday will be ready for use by Monday.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the hospital has in the meantime made arrangements for patients to be treated in other hospitals at the government’s cost.

“There will be no undue suffering as a result of the breakdown,” he said on Thursday.

He went on: “We have been guaranteed that the part will be in the country by Monday.”

He said the government has come up with long-term plans to ease the suffering of patients by constructing four modern cancer centres.

“Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri and Kisumu will have cancer centres. We want to decentralise the treatment of cancer across the country,” he added.


Kenyatta is the only public hospital that treats cancer and has only two overworked radiotherapy machines.

The hospital has been turning away patients and has asked those who had not started treatment that they would have to wait longer.

A radiotherapy session at KNH costs Sh500 while private hospitals charge between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000, which is out of reach for most patients.

Mr Macharia, who spoke during the opening of the annual Association of Medical Councils of Africa conference at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa County, said the country had a shortage of 20,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses due to migration of health workers to other countries.

He said the government was working to stop migration of doctors by providing proper working environment for the health workers, better remuneration, promotions and advance training.

“It is a common problem in Africa and not limited to Kenya. They leave not because of money but poor working environment. It takes a lot of money to train doctors and that is why we have a shortage of certain specialists such as oncologists in the public service,” he said.


He said about 5,000 nurses working in the UK had expressed interest in returning home to work in public hospitals.

“These are the interventions we are putting in place to ensure those in Botswana, US and Australia come back and close the gap,” he said.

He said the government was installing modern medical equipment in all public hospitals.

Mr Macharia said the government had set aside Sh50 billion to equip two hospitals in each county with modern medical equipment.

He added that the national government was also working with county governments to ensure health workers are well remunerated and their terms of service improved.

“If you pay and they don’t have proper working environment they will definitely leave for US or UK. We have started a key programme where we are installing modern equipment such as radiology, Intensive Care Units and laboratory equipment, that is what will bring them back,” he added.