AstraZeneca and Health Ministry Introduce Innovative Cancer Care Program in Kenya


The global science-led biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Kenya Society of Hematology and Oncology (KESHO), Axios, the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI), and other partners, has launched the Cancer Care Africa program—a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at improving cancer care in Kenya.

This launch is significant as cancer continues to pose a major public health challenge in Kenya and across Africa. According to the World Health Organization, there were 44,726 reported cancer cases and 29,317 cancer-related deaths in Kenya in 2022 alone.

Currently, cancer ranks as the third leading cause of death in Kenya, trailing behind infectious diseases and cardiovascular NCDs, and stands as the fifth leading cause of death in Africa. Despite its increasing prevalence and mortality rates, many still face challenges in accessing quality cancer care.

The initiative aims to achieve equitable improvement in cancer care access and outcomes throughout the patient care pathway, spanning from diagnosis to treatment.

During the event held at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on Tuesday evening, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha characterized the launch as a significant stride towards optimizing cancer care.

“This collaborative initiative has the potential to significantly improve access to diagnosis, treatment, and care, ultimately saving lives and improving the well-being of Kenyans impacted by this disease, as well as their families and communities,” the CS said.

The Health Minister emphasized that the Kenyan Government is not only prioritizing cancer diagnosis but also striving to ensure that care and treatment are affordable for families.

“With the coming into place of the Social Health Authority (SHA), Kenyans will get even greater relief on spending as SHA will take care of the huge costs of cancer treatment for all,” Nakhumicha added.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice-President of the Oncology Business Unit at AstraZeneca, emphasized the urgency of collaborative efforts to enhance patient outcomes and fortify healthcare systems for the future, especially with the rising number of cancer diagnoses in Kenya and across Africa.

He stated, “The Cancer Care Africa programme will bolster early detection, enhance timely diagnosis, and broaden access to treatment options for patients throughout Kenya.”

Cancer Care Africa has already contributed ultrasound biopsy machines to seven hospitals across Kenya, aiming to improve early prostate cancer diagnosis. Additionally, they donated the country’s inaugural biomarker testing machine for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutations to Aga Khan University Hospital.


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