Thousands of children are fighting cancer in this country each year. For many of them, diagnosis and treatment are out of reach.
Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has announced its 2nd Annual Cancer Walk event, which aims to raise 15 million shillings to improve early cancer diagnosis and treatment in children.
The walk, which is scheduled for May 21st, aims to help children from low-income communities access cancer care as part of Kenya’s drive to reduce childhood cancer mortality. The walk will begin at Uhuru Gardens and will consist of a 13-kilometer circuit on the Southern Bypass or a shorter 5-kilometer trail.
Speaking about the event, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital CEO Dr. Robert Nyarango encouraged the public to participate in the walk to help fight the growing cancer epidemic.
“Thousands of children are fighting cancer in this country each year. For many of them, diagnosis and treatment are out of reach. The number of new cases is rising alarmingly, especially considering that many people including health workers may not recognize the symptoms or access early diagnosis and treatment. While 80% of childhood cancers are treatable, only 1 out of 10 children are cured of cancer in Kenya.”
The CEO affirmed that Gertrude is at the forefront of improving outcomes for children fighting cancer. “This requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-faceted approach that brings together financing, human capital, and facilities to reach even the most vulnerable with life-saving care,” said Dr. Nyarango.
The Hospital’s Head of Medical Services Dr. Thomas Ngwiri confirmed that Gertrude has established a national program to diagnose and treat children with cancer, as well as to support the development of a national referral system for children newly diagnosed with cancer to receive treatment. “Our aim is to diagnose and treat 1,000 children with cancer in the next five years”.
The walk comes shortly after Kenya held its first National Cancer Summit, which noted that funding for treating the disease in the country is insufficient and that improvement requires a multi-stakeholder approach. According to GLOBOCAN (Global Cancer Observatory), an online database of cancer statistics, there were over 3,000 new cases of cancer in children aged 19 and under in 2020. The estimates, however, are thought to be lower than actual figures because lack of awareness has a significant impact on cancer reporting and diagnosis in children.
Cancer is among the three leading causes of death among children and adolescents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Children in high-income countries have an 80% chance of survival, compared to less than 30% in low- and middle-income countries.
Gertrude’s Cancer program aims to advance cancer diagnosis and treatment in children, build the capacity of healthcare workers to detect the early warning signs of childhood cancer and treat/refer children with cancer and provide timely interventions to children diagnosed with cancer.
The Gertrude’s Hospital’s Cancer Walk event was first held in 2020 and took a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.