Ida Odinga Calls for Increased Awareness on Cancer to Curb Frequent Deaths

“Cancer is currently a menace for Kenya. It is claiming many lives and is no longer a disease of the affluent as it was thought to be; it cuts across all social classes.” Said Ida Odinga

She was speaking last Friday evening at Villa Rosa Kempiski during the screening of a movie on breast cancer called ‘Purple Hearts.’

She underscored the economic burden of the disease on families and asked the government to strengthen the healthcare system by either training more doctors or outsourcing expert doctors to treat the disease locally, instead of referring patients overseas for treatment.

She however, was happy that the government has prioritized on Universal Health Coverage for All, as one of its Big 4 Agenda, a move that will see both infrastructural and service improve-ment within the health sector.

The movie screening event convened by United Nations Population Fund Kenya (UNFPA) and Maendeleo Ya Wanawake brought together first ladies from Machakos, Makueni, Kakamega counties, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris and various stakeholders to engage a broad range of stakeholders as advocates who would provoke strategic policy discussions and far reaching actions, which if undertaken will advance the health rights of women and girls.

The movie which chronicles a 32-year-old lady diagnosed with breast cancer after a precious pregnancy that followed five years of secondary infertility highlights a broad range of issues that would eventually impact on her family.

‘‘The purpose of the movie is to highlight that breast cancer can be defeated” Said Andy Amenechi, the producer of the movie whose wife is a breast cancer survivor.

Andy said that the movie is currently showing on Africa Magic Tv. He also partners with various advocacy organizations to distribute free copies, for he wishes that everyone gets a chance to watch the movie. He has plans to have the movie translated to Swahili language for the general Kenyan audience.

Dr. Ademola Olajide, Country Representative, UNFPA Kenya, said, breast and cervical cancers are Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) issues which require appropriate attention,

“As the movie illustrates, the interface of breast and cervical cancer and Sexual Reproductive Health of women such as those of maternal health, against the background of gender constructs within the society which disempowers women require appropriate attention” Said Dr. Ademola.

He added that UNFPA Kenya, under its mandate will continue to work with everyone to address urgent health issues affecting the country for the well-being of all

On her part, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Chairperson, Rahab Muiu, assured that her organization was poised to take the message to the grassroots and appealed to those present within policy circles to give voice and amplify the issue.

Tana Adelana, leading actress, ‘Purple Hearts’ said it was not easy shooting the movie, it was rather overwhelming.

‘The movie depicts a true-life story, for me knowing that someone had to experience this in real life was quite emotional. We had to cut certain scenes so that I could get myself’ She said

Cancer is the third leading cause of mortality in Kenya, accounting for 7% annual deaths after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases, with an estimated 400,000 new cancer cases and 28,000 cancer deaths occurring each year (MoH 2011).

Evidence by Kenya Cancer Network (KCN 2017) shows that 60% of Kenyans affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old, while the leading causes of cancer in women are cancers of the cervix and breast and esophagus, head, neck and prostrate in men

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