It is so amazing how each year various organizations and media houses and the country come out in full support to embrace cancer during the cancer month, but what next after the month of October? Do these campaigns stop or are we simply forced to hold our horses until October 2015 for new campaigns, education and public awareness on cancer?
Last week I had the pleasure to sit and talk to the principle research scientist from KEMRI Dr. Peter Odada Osumba where I got to learn that there are over 100 types of cancer in and across the world with a 50% life time risk of developing cancer
The less than one hour discussion I had with daktari made me realize that there is a big disconnect between the government and various medical practitioners in the country as well as the local wanainchi who clearly are in the dark about cancer, the various types, courses, symptoms nor preventive measures.
Cancer is the next big thing after Ebola as it courses more deaths than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Am not trying to freak out anyone nor do I have the time to waste in spreading propaganda, but truth is over 20,000 people die daily of cancer related complication but still no one is keen to address them. There is a new type of cancer rocking called Burkitt lymphoma, also known as “kissing cancer” that was first reported by NTV’s Ouko Okusa on September 27th in Homa-bay.
It is so funny how we every tenth month of the year we claim to come out to confront cancer in the country, but what is more funny is that despite the country importing cancer drugs at a cheaper price, suppliers add their profit margins and decide to sell the drugs at a double price that is, way beyond the reach of low income earners or should I say the common wanainchi as the likes of Senators, like Anyang Nyongo run off to other cheaper countries for their cancer medication. So what exactly are we fighting with our hospitals this expensive? and what kind of awareness are we creating with expensive billboards across the roads? Why go to the extra mile of using cancer as a scapegoat to raise money for the rich kid-guys in the block only for them to sick medication in India, Dubai or South Africa. What about that mama in the village who’s not able to raise Ksh. 8M to seek the same cheap treatment in the said countries or are they just another statistic that these rich folks opt to use to get the treatment they need?
Early this year, a middle age man was arrested and is currently spending some time at the Kisumu’s Kodiaga prison for neglecting one of his children suffering from Burkitt Lymphoma because he adamantly believed it was a curse imposed on him by his step mother. With another rejecting an already treated child because he too believed it as a curse. This are just but some of the few incidences that I have come across.
I mean, whose responsibility is it to ensure that, that mama mboga, the young village children or the boda boda guy at the village market is well equipped with the necessary knowledge and information about cancer? Did you even know that that according to recent studies multivitamins increase the risk of cancer and heart diseases with more skin cancer cases being due to indoor tanning than lung cancer is due to smoking? And buying that already cut Sukuma wiki “kwa jwala” because we’re too lazy to do the chopping ourselves also increases the chance of cancer.
Let’s then wake up and open our eyes to the harm our laxity in cancer awareness is having on our society and bring back the national public sensitization program to reach out to every individual across the country.