Sunday, May 26, 2024

Experts call for increased patient involvement in shaping Cancer research and treatment

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Cancer patient advocacy officers and researchers are calling for increased patient involvement in shaping approaches to cancer research and treatment in Kenya.

This is aimed at addressing the alarming challenges in breast cancer care and management to reinforce existing health policies, program planning, and healthcare delivery approaches.

According to representatives from the Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations (KENCO) and the Center for Public Health Development (CPHD), patient involvement in research will help limit the negative impact cancer is having on people’s lives, environments, and the economy.

This is as it will make it possible for women to access breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as address the psychological distress for most cancer patients.

According to data from the Ministry of Health (MoH), breast cancer accounts for over 3,107 deaths making it the 2nd leading cause of all cancer deaths in the country. MOH further notes that 7 women die every day in Kenya as a result of breast cancer.

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The advocates noted that limited cancer research both in capacity and availability to inform healthcare policy, has largely contributed to the lethal prevalence of breast Cancer.

They are, however, convinced that this number can be more than halved if informed approaches to breast cancer research, care, and management are employed.

For increased engagement between patient advocates and relevant stakeholders, more opportunities for education and engagement need to be created and foundations laid.

“All over the world, breast cancer patient advocacy initiatives have proven to be a powerful force for the enhancement of cancer research, treatment, management, and care.”

“Patient advocacy also provides peer support for the affected and is key to raising awareness, reducing stigma, educating the public, and influencing healthcare policy by bringing the public’s concerns about cancer to policymakers and stakeholders within the health sector. ”

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“To reduce the impact and limit the burden of cancer on the economy, patient advocacy should be encouraged across the country,” said Ms. Lucy Njeri Kariuki – A member of the Cancer Café during a media roundtable organized by Pfizer.

Ms. Kariuki also says patient advocacy will help counties develop and maintain sustainable healthcare systems geared towards addressing the enormous burden of breast cancer on the country.

According to the 2020 GLOBOCAN Report on Global Cancer Burden, the annual incidence of cancer was reported as 42,116 cases in 2020.

In Kenya, cancer is the third leading cause of death and the second leading cause of Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) deaths after cardiovascular diseases.

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