Benda Kithaka is a Health Advocacy & Behaviour Change Communications Specialist, with over 20 years’ experience in communications, research, and health advocacy.
She is the founder of KILELE Health Association, a Kenyan non-profit organization located in Nairobi, with a mandate to operate in the country’s 47 Counties.
KILELE Health specializes in empowering people living with chronic conditions (cancer and other NCDs) and their caregivers to use their lived experiences as advocacy tools for disease prevention, stigma reduction and improvement of quality of life beyond the diagnosis. The organization is committed to engaging members and other stakeholders in improving the understanding of quality of life issues. Current programmes focus on advocacy, behaviour change communications, capacity building, and exchange of best practice, research, and resourcing. This is achieved through promotion of physical activity, mental wellness, financial wellness and pursuit of optimal health; as tools for the attainment of wellbeing.
Benda sits on various global, regional and local Technical Working Groups in an advocacy and advisory role. She co-chairs the AORTIC Advocacy Special Interest Group regionally in Africa, and in Kenya is Co-Chair of the STOP Cervical Cancer technical working group. She is also a Trainer, Facilitator and Public Speaker in advocacy for Women’s Health. Previously she served on the Board of Women4Cancer for nine years, a Kenyan NGO she co-founded in 2012, whose Vision is a Cervical Cancer Free Kenya.
She has received various awards including the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) Distinguished Advocacy Award 2019, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) award to participate as the civil society voice in the Regional Consultation on the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in the African Region (May 2019). She is also the Cancer Ambassador of the Year 2016 in Kenya.
An alumni of the AORTIC Master Cancer Advocacy Trainer Programme in 2013, her advocacy work includes writing the WHO Regional Office for Africa Advocacy for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control in Africa Facilitator Manual in 2015 – 2017, and Master Training of Expert Trainers of Trainers from 10 WHO AFRO Countries in use of the toolkit in Africa (2017).
To complement her advocacy with systems strengthening, she undertook an Executive Diploma in Leading High Performing Healthcare Organisations Program (LeHHO) at the Strathmore Business School: Institute of Healthcare Management in Kenya (2016). In 2020, she was also trained as a MOTH Story Teller, a skill she is using to inspire others to tell their stories in advocacy, acting as a catalyst for change.
Under the KILELE Challenge, Benda summited Mt. Kenya Climb with Cancer Survivors in September 2020, to highlight cancer survivorship challenges and advocate for post treatment empowerment of women cancer survivors across Sub-Sahara Africa.