AstraZeneca Launches Program to Enhance Cancer Care in Kenya


Dr Naphtali Busakhala, Chair, Kenya Society for Hematology and Oncology (KESHO) Dr Pelin Incesu, Area Vice President for Midle East and Africa David Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca Dr Khomotso Mashilane, Medical Director: African Cluster at AstraZeneca Deepak Arora, Country President, Africa Cluster, AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca has unveiled the Cancer Care Africa program in Kenya, aimed at addressing the barriers to access and improving patient outcomes across the care continuum, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

The program will be undertaken in collaboration with key healthcare stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, The Kenya Society of Haematology and Oncology (KESHO), Axios, and the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI).

The launch event, held in Nairobi, Kenya, was attended by Hon. Nakhumicha S. Wafula EGH, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Kenya, Dr Elias Melly, CEO, National Cancer Institute of Kenya, and Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice-President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca.

Cancer has emerged as a significant public health challenge in Kenya and across Africa.

Recent data from the World Health Organization revealed 44,726 cancer cases and 29,317 cancer-related deaths in Kenya in 2022, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive interventions.

The program is designed to address critical barriers such as limited disease awareness, inadequate diagnostic capabilities, absence of structured screening programs, and challenges in accessing treatment.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, said the move will be key in the fight against cancer in the country.

“The launch of the Cancer Care Africa program in Kenya is a significant milestone in improving cancer care. This collaborative effort has the potential to enhance access to diagnosis, treatment, and care, ultimately saving lives and improving the well-being of Kenyans affected by cancer.”

The Cancer Care Africa program is structured around four key pillars of action that will see building of capacity for health workers.

This will see AstraZeneca support over 100 oncology centers and provide training for more than 10,000 healthcare professionals, aiming to enhance the quality of care delivered to cancer patients across the continent.

The program will also seek to enhance Enhancing Screening and Diagnostics for lung, breast, and prostate cancers, targeting one million individuals to facilitate early detection and improve patient outcomes.

Through engagement with local patient advocacy groups (PAGs), the program aims to increase disease awareness and support informed decision-making among patients.

AstraZeneca intends to enhance the availability of critical cancer medicines through flexible access models, ensuring that innovative treatments reach patients in need.

Ahead of the official launch, Cancer Care Africa has already made significant contributions by donating ultrasound biopsy machines to seven hospitals in Kenya for early prostate cancer diagnosis and introducing the country’s first biomarker testing machine for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations at Aga Khan University Hospital.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice-President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, emphasized the importance of joint action to combat cancer in Kenya and Africa.

“With the increasing cancer burden, early detection, timely diagnosis, and improved access to treatments are crucial,” Fredrickson stated, highlighting the program’s role in supporting these critical aspects of cancer care.

Launched initially in November 2002 at COP27 in Egypt, Cancer Care Africa continues to advocate for policy changes, implement health education programs, train healthcare workers, and strive for equitable access to cancer medicines across the continent.

Through these efforts, the program aims to improve outcomes for all individuals affected by cancer, regardless of their background or circumstances.

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