Ecobank has sponsored cancer patients for treatment following the recently concluded Ecobank Cancer Caravan in which, out of more than 3,600 people screened for cancer, about 200 people tested positive for either prostrate, cervical cancer or breast cancer and 24 of them have been receiving treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
“We decided to sponsor treatment to select patients in need of urgent medical attention and we are urging other organizations to join this initiative and probably pick the tab for the other patients who need therapeutic treatment to arrest the disease,” said Mr Ehouman Kassi, the Ecobank Kenya Managing Director.
The recent nationwide cancer screening drive dubbed ‘Ecobank Cancer Caravan’ launched in October 2013, aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of screening, early detection and treatment of cancer. With state of the art testing equipment, early detection is the most important determinant of survival.
Studies by the Kenya Medical Research Institute indicate that cancer is the third cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases in Kenya. According to a policy brief on the analysis of cancer in Kenya prepared by Parliament’s department of research, about 50 Kenyans die from various forms of cancers daily.
Thus, Mr. Kassi said the steady rise in the number of cancer incidences in Kenya called for intervention by all concerned parties in order to create awareness and increase survival rate of cancer patients.
If the cancer is found early and has not yet spread, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 per cent, say studies. According to the Kenya Cancer Association (KenCASA) one-third of Cancer deaths could be avoided through Prevention and another third through early detection and treatment.
However in Kenyan Hospitals, equipment used to treat and detect cancer have been scarce. According to Hon. Anyang’ Nyong’o, Kenya has been two decades behind countries like South Africa and India when it comes to technology and state of art equipment used to treat cancer. Moreover, the knowledge takes time to acquire and the access to various forms of treatment is limited, a common trend in third world countries.
Nevertheless, with sufficient funding, a comprehensive health insurance system, institutional capacity to deliver cancer treatment and a patient care system have the capacity to conquer the scourge. Thanks to awareness programs such as that of the Ecobank Cancer Caravan, funds have been donated to cater for treatment facilities.
Mrs Lily Koros Tare, the KNH Chief Executive Officer said the six infusion pump chairs worth Ksh1 million donated by the bank during the Ecobank Cancer Caravan have helped ensure cancer patients receive their chemotherapy safely and comfortably.
Before the donation, the unit had only 12 such chairs, incommensurate with the number of patients that it attends to twice every week seeking chemotherapy. On each of the days, the treatment is administered to at least 60 patients, the weekly average standing at 120.
The donation has seen more patients receive treatment safely every week, patients who would otherwise sit on benches, making the procedure uncomfortable given that chemotherapy infusion takes up several hours to administer.
Mrs Koros thanked Ecobank for its contribution to improving the quality of life of cancer patients in the country.
She added: “With support from the Government and the private sector, we hope to increase the number of the chairs to at least 50 to cater for the increasing numbers of cancer patients in the hospital. As such, we appeal to well-wishers to assist in this course.”
Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, which has a huge presence in Africa. The Group has over 18,000 employees from 36 different countries in over 1,200 branches. It currently runs as a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transactional banking services to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, local companies, SMEs and individuals.