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Strategic Cancer Advocacy- Meaningful Engagement Of Cancer Survivors

Moderator: Muthoni Mate, Founder Cancer Cafe

Sponsor: Takeda, a pharmaceutical company with a patient assistance program for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Kenya.

Presenters:

  1. Christine Mugo-Sitati, Executive director KENCO
  2. Dr. Zipporah Ali, Palliative Care Specialist and advocate
  3. Benda Kithaka, Executive director, Kilele health
  4. Philip Odiyo, Psycho-oncologist, Faraja
  5. Livingstone Simiyu, Lawyer and Secretary HENZO Kenya
  6. Wanjiru Githuka, Chairlady CSAK

Kenya Network of Cancer Organization (KENCO) is an umbrella body for civil society groups involved in meaningful engagement with cancer survivors. KENCO groups provide information, education, and screening of cancer while some member groups are involved in patient navigation to access health services. They are also involved in palliative care and advocacy, influencing policy and representing cancer patients in government. They compliment the government in providing financial and psychosocial support to the patients, sensitize and build capacity for the health care workers, and provide basic information to cancer patients to ensure patient needs are met. The National Cancer Act 2012 provided a legal framework on how to deal with cancer patients. There are calls by various bodies to decentralize cancer services to the counties, in order to ease the financial burden and to enable patients to adhere to treatment. This would greatly improve cancer services delivery in the country. The unavailability of locally generated data on cancer survivorship demonstrates the need to focus on research and clinical trials, and to publish the research findings. Data generated from research will guide informed policy development. Public education on what services the Universal Health Care (UHC) has for cancer patients, is a step in providing financial support to the patients, especially since the National Hospital Insurance Funds  (NHIF), do not comprehensively cover cancer treatment. In addition, private insurers and families are encouraged to supplement NHIF. Community and public engagement efforts about a healthy lifestyle and health-seeking behavior would help to reduce the number of cancer patients in the country. Additionally, public education will help to reduce stigmatization and discrimination of cancer patients. Early diagnosis is a major challenge for childhood cancers, due to late patient presentation. Since over 60% of children with cancer are cured with timely intervention, there is a need for parents to be on the lookout for any abnormal signs in children.

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