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Leave the “Bora Uhai “notion and get to understand cancer


Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the most diagnosed in both men and women in the world? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9.8 million people die in the world due to cancer. On Wednesday, October 23, 2020, the People and Culture team at Strathmore University engaged their staff on cancer awareness.  Sharing their wealth of knowledge with the virtual staffers through the topic were Cindy Ogana – (Fundraising Manager – Faraja Cancer Support Trust) and Dr. Wambui Kung’u – (Senior Registrar – Clinical Oncology – Kenyatta National Hospital). Harriet Koyoson – (Director – Health Services -Strathmore Medical Center) was the moderator.

What are some of the challenges facing Kenya in fighting cancer?

Many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer, reason being symptoms vary and are non-specific. As a result, they are mistaken for other regular illnesses. For example, stomach problems that appear to resemble stomach ulcers can be missed as stomach cancer. Secondly, there are many cases of misdiagnosis and it is not until it’s too late that the illness is discovered. Another challenge would be the availability of adequate screening facilities. There are very few referral facilities and the few that are government-funded are overwhelmed, a good example being Kenyatta Hospital. Like many other terminal illnesses, the cost of treatment is very high, meaning very few can afford it. It is also because of this that many patients prefer to go to countries like India since it is cheaper than Kenya and the facilities are equipped to care for the patients.

What are some of the common risk factors of cancer?

Some of the common risk factors that have been identified by cancer specialists around the world include behavioral habits such as tobacco use, alcohol use, dietary factors, physical inactivity that leads to one being overweight or obese. Experts suggest knowing your body mass index (BMI) is the best way to understand if you are proportionately overweight or underweight. Other important cancer risk factors include environmental exposure to physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet (UV) and ionizing radiation; chemical carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and food contaminants such as aflatoxins. Over and above these, biological factors such as age also contribute to cancer: The older you are the more prone you are to most illnesses since immunity is lower. Genetic factors based on family history can also increase your chance of getting cancer.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cancer prevention is an essential component of the fight against cancer. Unfortunately, many preventative measures that are both cost-effective and inexpensive have yet to be implemented in many countries. Like with many other chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure it is important to be proactive in knowing your status by getting screened and having your annual medical examination done. Keep in touch with your family roots and know what illnesses are there and start to act now on how to reduce your chances of being a victim of an illness that you could prevent if only you knew you had it.


This article was written by Annete Karanja.


Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu