Population Services (PS) Kenya will hold a series of cancer screening events targeting over two thousand five hundred women in partnership with Stanbic bank in various areas of the country to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness month (October).
Women aged twenty five 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 have 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 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 three hundred women in each of the eight centres where the activities will take place in the five 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 screen individually on a regular basis. There shall also be cervical cancer screening which will adopt a ‘screen and treat model” previously used by PS Kenya 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” model.
“This is a cheaper method for detecting early cell changes which has made screening affordable for all women above the age of twenty five years at an average cost of Kshs. 500. We will mobilize the communities around the centres where the events will take place using community health workers to raise awareness about the importance of early screening and its affordability,” said Ms. Wanderi.
Besides early detection, diagnosed patients will be referred to leading hospitals for better treatment.
“We are happy to be 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 third 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, the head of 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 according to a 2018 report by Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN). 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 new cancer cases and 3,286 (11.84%) of all cancer deaths annually. It is a leading cause of cancer related deaths in Kenya and the second most common cancer among females. (GLOBOCAN, 2018). According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, 33 per 100,000 women in Kenya have cervical cancer and 22 per 100,000 die from the disease.
Over seventy per cent of cancer patients in Kenya are diagnosed at an advanced stage.