Kenyatta National Hospital has acquired the unique Ventana Breast Cancer diagnostic machine that will greatly enhance the institution’s capacity to combat the disease.
The new machine, known in medical circles as immunohistochemistry analyzer is the third such facility and the biggest so far in the country.
The other two smaller versions of the same machine are to be found at Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi, and Lancet Laboratories along Ngong Road.
The new Ventana Breast Cancer diagnostic machine was handed over to KNH by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Tuesday when she inaugurated a new partnership between Roche Pharmaceuticals Company, the Ministry of Health and the Office of the First Lady to improve Breast Cancer Management in Kenya.
The new cancer machine can diagnose nine types of cancer according to Roche Group Sub Sahara Africa Head Mr Markus Gemuend who talked at length about the new collaboration between his Pharmaceutical firm and the Ministry of Health.
Besides facilitating early diagnosis and access to improved care for patients with breast cancer in Kenya, the new partnership has packages to train oncologists and oncology nurses through scholarships, infrastructure development and access to affordable drugs.
The new agreement will also provide an opportunity for medical practitioners in Kenya to access information that will be critical to empowering them with knowledge of best practice.
The launch of the new partnership builds on the country’s 2015-2020 National Strategy for the Prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases and represents a comprehensive approach to battling the disease.
The program also complements the campaign from the African First Ladies who are committed to expanding access to prevention and treatment services for women with breast cancer.
The inauguration of the new partnership comes barely two weeks after the 10th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the First Lady said Africa had the will, capacity and resources to combat cancer.
Thanking the Roche group for the new partnership, the First Lady expressed optimism and confidence that the sustained investment from numerous stakeholders to KNH, including from the Ministry of Health, will one day enable the country’s main referral hospital become a regional leader in cancer treatment and management.
“Through Roche’s gracious investment in the breast cancer diagnostic machine, I trust that the Hospital will continue to expand its reach and offer better services, more efficiently and to more people”, said the First Lady.
She said the model chosen by Roche was a valuable one where the Pharmaceutical giant is partnering with a hospital that is so strategically positioned to support the health and healing of women not just in Kenya, but across the East African region.
“Even with limited equipment and human resource, KNH has for a long time offered cancer treatment and management in the country and attracted patients from beyond our borders”, said the First Lady.
She called on leaders to remain committed in supporting programs that expand the prevention, treatment and palliative services for people with breast cancer.
In Kenya today, cancer ranks third as a cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases; accounting for 7% of total national deaths every year.
The First Lady said that while serving as the chairperson of the Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) over the past one year, she had been made more aware of the aggressiveness of breast cancer amongst young African women.
The First Lady expressed concern that over 50% of young African women with breast cancer were all under the productive age of 50 years.
Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu promised Breast Cancer Survivors in the country, some of whom were present, that his office will organize to meet with them next week to explore and map strategies on how they can be assisted on matters concerning accessing affordable drugs, accessing prosthesis (once their breast are removed) and issues to handle stigmatization.
He also said the Ministry is considering the decentralization of some breast cancer care services to the former Provincial Hospitals.
Others at the function included Health Principal Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, Roche Country Director for East Africa, Mr Andre Mendoza and KNH Chief Executive Officer Lily Koros who hosted the function.