Partnership to improve breast cancer care launches in Kenya

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta sitting alongside Markus Gemuen from Roche at the launch of a new public-private partnership to improve breast cancer care in KenyaFirst Lady Margaret Kenyatta, from the Kenya Ministry of Health, and Roche Pharmaceuticals have launched key activities that will facilitate access to improved care for patients with breast cancer in Kenya.

The launch builds on the country’s 2015 to 2020 National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and represents a comprehensive approach to battling the disease.

The programme also complements the campaign from the African First Ladies, who are committed to expanding access to prevention and treatment services for women with breast cancer.

Enhanced access to diagnosis and treatment

The public-private partnership’s planned activities include breast cancer awareness programmes, improvements in screening and diagnostics, including the placement of a diagnostic instrument capable of advanced testing for seven types of cancer. Additionally, the collaboration will train five new oncologists and six oncology nurses, provide surgical oncology training, support the development of best practice national treatment guidelines and an increase the number of cancer treatment centres in Kenya.

Access to medicine will be made available to patients seeking treatment at public institutions with the Government of Kenya and Roche jointly covering the costs. The aim of these measures is to improve access to timely and precise diagnostic services and tailored cancer treatment to make cancer therapy much more effective.

Aiming for a cancer-free female society

‘Strong, healthy women are the foundation of families in our country. In Kenya their health is threatened by a disease, which we must catch early. Many women are being diagnosed with breast cancer too late and are dying needlessly when there are treatments available that give them a chance to fight this disease,’ says First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. ‘This partnership between the Government of Kenya and Roche demonstrates that we all must play our part to ensure that our mothers, sisters and daughters have the opportunity to fight and win the war against breast cancer.’

Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer in women in Kenya with more 50 percent of cases presenting in women below the age of 50. This places their families and the economy at a great disadvantage. Every year approximately 4 500 patients are diagnosed with the disease and 2 000 patients lose their lives to breast cancer. This burden reflects an increasing trend in the number of women being diagnosed with the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment could greatly reduce the burden of breast cancer and improve treatment outcomes.

Overcoming health care challenges in Africa

The Kenya agreement is part of Roche’s Africa strategy, which was launched in 2015 in the following seven countries: Nigeria; Ghana; Kenya; Côte d’Ivoire; Angola; Ethiopia and Gabon. Based on the needs and capabilities of these countries, Roche is implementing a wide selection of activities in collaboration with local partners. These include:

‘We are honoured to have the support of the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta to launch this important initiative for breast cancer patients and to demonstrate Kenya’s commitment to improving cancer care,’ Markus Gemuend, head of Roche’s sub-Saharan Africa region. ‘With access to health care, women are empowered to build the futures they want for themselves and their families. This comprehensive agreement ensures that breast cancer patients in Kenya will have improved access to care and life-changing medicines. It will also see the overall healthcare system becoming stronger to support all Kenyans battling cancer.’

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