Make healthier choices to be free from cancer, First Lady says

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and her Niger counterpart, Dr. Malika Issoufou Mahamadou, present a honorary crystal plaque to the President of Namibia, H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, on the occasion of his appointment as the Goodwill Ambassador on Women and Childrens’ Health 2014

By PSCU

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has urged Kenyans and Africans in general to manage eating and lifestyle habits so as to improve their health and avoid contracting cancer.

The First Lady said one in three cancers are linked to what people eat, drink, do and in particular to whether or not they smoke tobacco for leisure.

She spoke during the three-day 8th Stop Cervical, Breast & Prostate Cancers in Africa (SCCA) Conference at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

“While cancer can strike the healthiest and fittest amongst us, one in three cancers is preventable. This is why we need to pass across the message that people can take steps to improve their health and avoid certain cancers,” said the First Lady.

To augment better eating and lifestyle habits, Mrs. Kenyatta said, the Government is piloting the introduction of Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine (HPV) through the public health system targeting school age girls aged between 9 and 14 years.

The vaccine will prevent 7 out of 10 cases of cervical cancer among grown-up girls to secure a cervical cancer free generation of women, the First Lady said.

“New innovations in public health in the country including effective vaccines to prevent cervical cancer among other diseases have been developed,” she said.

The First Lady added, “The Government has supplied cervical cancer screening equipment to health centers and hospitals throughout the country,”

She said cancer was ranked third as the cause of pre-mature death after infectious and heart diseases in Kenya.

She said the Government was equally investing in cervical cancer prevention and detection by primary health workers through use of simple inspection methods that will facilitate early detection and referral.

Said the First Lady, “The government has embarked on a sh. 50 m. dollar programme to equip regional hospitals with modern equipment including cancer treatment facilities”.

She also said the recent launch of the national cancer management guidelines by Ministry of Health would ensure standardized care for all patients in public and private health care facilities.

The programme will ensure standardized care for all patients in public and private health facilities in order to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and referral of cancer patients.

In recognition of the critical role played by the private sector in health service delivery, the Government is working closely with the private sector to expand infrastructure and human resource capacity for managing cancers, The First Lady said.

She reaffirmed her personal commitment to a future free of cancer, that is at the core of her ”BEYOND ZERO” campaign that aims at mobilizing Kenyans towards stoppage of deaths among women and children caused by preventable causes.

Other First Ladies who presented cancer perspectives in their respective countries included the host Madame Pohamba, the outgoing chair Forum of African First Ladies Against Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer (2013/14) Dr. Maria Guebuza of Mozambique, South Africa’s Tobeka Zuma and Ghana’s Lordina Mahama.

Others were Nigeria’s Patience Jonothan, Niger’s Malika Mahamadou and Queen Nomsa LaMatsebula of Swaziland.