The National Cancer Taskforce (NCT) has issued a report to the Ministry of Health asking the government to remove the tax imposed on cancer treatment products.
National Cancer Control Programme chairperson Dr Mary Nyangasi said that products that are essential in cancer treatment are not covered under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), therefore hindering access to quality healthcare and treatment outcomes.
According to the report handed over to the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, access to cancer medicines and health products is often compromised by limited availability, affordability, and accessibility.
“There are challenges in access and affordability of treatment assistive devices such as central and peripheral lines such as chemoports for chemotherapy use and colostomy bags among other rehabilitative items,” the report reads in part.
Also appearing before the taskforce, cancer patients and caregivers decried the high cost of cancer rehabilitative products such as colostomy and urostomy supplies which include; stoma bags, base plates, pouches, ostomy cream, powder, barrier ring, adhesive strips, prosthesis and even crutches.
Meanwhile, thousands of cancer patients are still holding on hope that the cost of treatment will be looked into after the taskforce in the report recommended capping treatment costs for the disease.
Cancer treatment cost still remains high in the country varying with the type of cancer and the stage.
Patients on chemotherapy alone part with an average of Kes138,207. Those treated with surgery cost an average of Kes128,207 while those on radiotherapy Kes119,036. For patients on a combination of all three, the cost is roughly Kes333,462.
Similarly, the cost of treating stage I, II, and III breast cancer in the public sector ranged from Kes160,000 to Kes184,000 while the cost for cervical cancer patients part with between Kes100,000 and Kes180,000.
“Breast and cervical cancer treatment in the private sector are generally almost 10 times more expensive than in the public sector,” the report reads.
“Palliative care for a six-month period was Kes20,000 and Kes89,000 in the public and private facilities respectively.”
Statistics by the Ministry of Health show that cancer is the third leading cause of death both globally and in Kenya, and the second leading cause of non-communicable diseases deaths after cardiovascular diseases.
Similarly, it is estimated that the annual incidence of cancer is at 42,116 in 2020, down from 47,887 cases in 2018, while the annual mortality is at 27,092 in 2020, down from 32,987 in 2018.