Prevalence and Capacity of Cancer Diagnostics and Treatment: A Demand and Supply Survey of Healthcare Facilities in Kenya

Author(s): Barbara Son

The cancer incidence burden is expected to rise to over 85 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. This alarming trend underscores the need to develop evidence-based interventions that can effectively handle this volatile epidemic. The evidence generation entails the collection of adequate information on burden, pattern and prevalence of cancer relative to capacity to promote effective decision making. Accordingly, this study documents the prevalence and types of cancer in Kenya (demand side); and to determine the diagnostic and treatment capacity of the various health facilities to handle cancer cases (supply side). To investigate demand and supply factors for cancer control, the study surveyed 7 of the 47 counties in Kenya during 2013~2014. It sampled 1,048 cancer patients??? records and 12 healthcare facilities. The study found that the most frequent age for female patients was at age 52, while for men was at age 62. The most prevalent cancer in women was breast cancer and cancer of the cervix, while for men was cancer of the oesophagus and prostate. It was also found that children and rural populations were more vulnerable than it was thought, hence defying the local perception that cancer inflicts only adults and those in urban areas. Accessing cancer screening and treatment was one of the major hurdles as most cancer care services in Kenya were concentrated within a 5 km radius of each other in Nairobi. The limited capacity with respect to diagnosis and treatment has implications to issues of access, proximity and availability. It is critical that policy makers and practitioners closely review the current public and individual perceptions about the cancer problems and mitigation strategies.
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