A cancer cell (Image from Wikipedia.org)
A cancer cell (Image from Wikipedia.org)

by Christine Lagat

Peterson Githinji, a middle aged father of three defied the freezing cold on Monday morning to queue at a make shift cancer screening centre sponsored by the Ministry of Health and charity groups.

A cancer cell (Image from Wikipedia.org)
A cancer cell (Image from Wikipedia.org)
Githinji heard the news of free cancer screening from a neighbor and requested his employer to grant him an off duty in order to undergo a critical medical examination.

Having witnessed close relatives and friends succumb to cancer, Githinji has always sought information from experts to enable him ward of the killer disease.

During an interview with Xinhua at the make shift cancer screening centre, Githinji recounted the chilling deaths of his father and two uncles from a disease that has shaken the Kenyan social fabric.

“I am aware that people in their middle ages are vulnerable to many types of cancers and that is why I opted for a comprehensive screening. Cancer is in my family tree and I have vowed to use tools at my disposal to keep it at bay,” said Githinji.

He was attentive as specialists from a reputable private hospital explained to him the different types of cancers and how to ward them off.

Githinji was elated as doctors gave him a clean bill of health after testing for prostate cancer and diabetes.
“It has become a ritual for me to test for cancer aware that my vulnerability to the disease increases with age. Having witnessed the agony and pain associated with the disease, I have vowed to adopt a healthy lifestyle and minimize the risk of becoming a candidate,” Githinji told Xinhua.

He was among hundreds of Kenyans who defied early morning chill to undergo free cancer screening on the sidelines of an African First Ladies Conference to reignite the war against the killer disease.

The Kenyan demographic health survey contends that cancer is the third leading cause of deaths in the east African nation after cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

Statistics from the ministry of health indicate that Kenya loses 30,000 people to cancer annually.

Kenyan officials said the government has invested in public awareness, diagnostics and palliative care services to minimize fatalities arising from cancer.

“We have installed cancer screening equipment in major public hospitals and have appealed to the private sector to subsidize drugs for treating cancer patients,” Kenyan minister for health, James Macharia said.

He added the government will finance training of cutting edge cancer specialists to bridge a gaping shortfall.
Kenyans have responded positively to campaigns urging them to undergo cancer screening in order to ward off the disease.
The make shift cancer screening centre set up by the ministry of health and partners was teeming with humanity eager to be tested for a disease that has spiked at alarming levels.

Juliet Mueni, a mother of two patiently waited for her turn to undergo breast cancer screening.

The court clerk in her late 20s has always craved to test for cancer aware the disease run in her family lineage.

“My grandmother died of breast cancer two years ago while two of my cousins were recently diagnosed with lung and colon cancers. I have to live with this reality however tragic and that is why am ready to undergo regular screening,” Mueni told Xinhua.

Kenyans from all walks of life thronged the makeshift cancer screening centre to help minimize their chances of contracting a fatal disease.

Peter Moturi, a 26-year-old college student had mobilized his peers to screen for cancer and diabetes.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Moturi and his age mates have adopted lifestyles that would cushion them from lifestyle diseases that are devastating the Kenyan society.

“This is my second time to test for cancer and blood sugar levels. I have been told by the family doctor that early detection is key to prevent cancer,” Moturi told Xinhua.

He revealed that several distant relatives had succumbed to cancer and diabetes.

The Kenyan government has partnered with private sector and foundations to boost the fight against cancer through public education, free screening and subsidized treatment.

Nicholas Muraguri, the Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, said Kenya has adopted a holistic approach to reduce cancer infections and deaths.

“We are encouraging the public to undergo regular screening and adopt healthy lifestyles in order to insulate them from cancer,” Muraguri said.

He added that punitive legislation to curb abuse of alcohol and tobacco is part of a wider battle against non communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and hypertension. Enditem

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