Population Services (PS) Kenya has today announced that it will hold a series of cancer screening events targeting over 2500 women in partnership with Stanbic bank in various areas of the country to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Women aged 25 years and above in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kiambu, Mombasa, and Nakuru will be screened for breast and cervical cancer in a bid to decrease preventable deaths through early detection.
“We are glad to announce our partnership with Stanbic Bank who has funded the screening events that will take place in various parts of the country from Saturday until the end of the month. Our primary goal is to increase the detection of breast and cervical cancers in their early stages and hence improve prognosis and reduce the number of preventable deaths,” said Joyce Wanderi, Chief Executive Officer, PS Kenya.
The screening services will be taken to low-income areas of Nairobi where the residents tend to stay away from hospitals due to the high cost of healthcare in the country.
From this week until the end of October, PS Kenya in partnership with Stanbic will target to screen about 300 women in each of the eight centers where the activities will take place in the 5 counties
PS Kenya will work with the Tunza Health Network providers (a PS Kenya social franchise) to provide breast cancer screening for women while at the same time empowering them to self-screen themselves regularly. The screening will be integrated with cervical cancer screening which will adopt a “Screen and Treat model” which PS Kenya has previously used in a partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from 2012-2016.
Here, a Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) is used to detect early changes that are visible when using a speculum to inspect the cervix with the naked eye after applying dilute (3-5%) acetic acid to it. The positive cases are then treated with a Cryotherapy Machine immediately, hence the “Screen and Treat” terminology.
“This is a cheaper method for detecting early cell changes and has made screening affordable for all women above the age of 25 at an average cost of Shs. 500. We will mobilize the communities around the centers where the events will take place using community health workers to raise awareness about the importance of early screening and its affordability. We will ask those who turn up for screening to tell their relatives and friends,” said Ms. Wanderi.
Besides early detection, diagnosed patients will be referred to leading hospitals for better treatment.
“We are happy to be a part of this project as a funding partner because the cancer burden continues to affect all of us, exerting significant strain on populations and health systems at all income levels. In 2018, there were an estimated 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths globally. In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. Early screening and detection can save more lives and that is the aim of this partnership,” said Pauline Mbaya, Head Stanbic Bank Foundation.
Overall, breast cancer registers 5,985 new cases in Kenya, accounting for 12.5% of all new cancer cases, and 20.9% in women alone (GLOBOCAN, 2018). In the same period, it accounted for 9.2% of all cancer deaths, making it the third leading cause of all cancer deaths in the country. Available data shows that majority of breast cancer patients present in late-stage, contributing to higher mortality and low overall survival.
In Kenya, cervical cancer contributes 5,250 (12.9%) of the new cancer cases annually and 3,286 (11.84%) of all cancer deaths annually. It is a leading cause of cancer related deaths in Kenya and the 2nd most common cancer among females. (GLOBOCAN, 2018). According to WHO 2018, 33 per 100,000 women in Kenya have cervical cancer, and 22 per 100,000 die from the disease.
Over seventy percent of cancer patients in Kenya are diagnosed at an advanced stage.