MSH Kenya Supports Country-Led Development of Cancer Guidelines

MSH Kenya Supports Country-Led Development of Cancer Guidelines

{Photo credit: Mike Wang, courtesy of Photoshare.}Photo credit: Mike Wang, courtesy of Photoshare.

In Kenya, cancer is ranked third as a cause of mortality and morbidity after communicable and cardiovascular diseases.

The Ministry of Health, supported by the USAID-funded, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led, Health Commodities and Services Management (MSH/HCSM) Program, led the development and launch of the First National Guidelines for Cancer Management in Kenya, in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO), Africa Cancer Foundation, and other stakeholders.

The Cancer Guidelines are intended to help increase access to cancer screening, early diagnosis, referral and management of diagnosed cases.

In Kenya, cancer-related services have previously been available only in the top private hospitals and the public teaching and referral hospitals, which have restricted access to a few well-to- do individuals who can afford the related costs. The guidelines de-mystify cancer management and have outlined the core health system requirements needed to offer services in the different tiers of health care, including: community, primary care, county referral and national referral hospitals.

Developed through a highly consultative process, the guidelines are in line with article 43 of the Kenya Constitution, which outlines that “Every person has the right—to the highest attainable standard of health”. The guidelines are also in line with the Cancer Prevention and Control Act 15 of 2012 and the Kenya National Cancer Control Strategy 2011-2016.

The high-level official launch of these national guidelines on November 6, 2013 was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mr. James Macharia, who described the guidelines as very “timely” because Kenya is experiencing a significant rise in the burden of cancer among other non-communicable diseases.

The nationwide dissemination and implementation of these guidelines will result in early screening, diagnosis, and management of cancers, which will reduce cancer-related morbidity and mortality and, subsequently, improve health outcomes.

Ndinda Kusu, BPharm, MSc, MPH, is deputy chief of party of the Health Commodities and Services Management (MSH/HCSM) Program in Kenya.