I was excitedly waiting for the reading of the 2017/2018 budget as I had great interest and good reasons too. I knew that from all the advocacy work we had been involved in as cancer survivors last year 2016, the cancer agenda would be highlighted in the budget allocated to the health sector. Alas, there was absolutely nothing standing out. Out of the Kshs 30 billion allocated to the health sector, I did not see anything specific to cancer. And I don’t mean cancer as a miscellaneous somewhere in the health sector budget. I mean cancer standing out with a relatively big budget just like HIV AIDS and malaria. I have nothing against allocation to HIV AIDS and malaria but I do have a problem that I do not see in black and white that Kshs xxx has been allocated to the fight against cancer. In my view, cancer is a national disaster that needs to be top on the agenda and to be addressed by the government, politicians at all levels and by everyone in the country. We need action now.
Now that the budget has been read, I would like to turn the heat on the politicians. Unless, I see the cancer agenda clearly spelt out on parties and individual manifestos, you telling me exactly what you will do for the cancer patients, you will not get my vote. As I speak, I represent the voice of millions of Kenyan men and women who have been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. Families that have lost their loved ones. Families whose loved ones are ailing and they are helpless- the financial burden is too much. Families that went bankrupt because of cancer treatment for their loved ones. Everyday I get requests from people who need financial help to meet the huge financial burden that they carry from cancer treatment. Everyday we are being invited for fund raising to assist other cancer survivors offset huge bills. WE ARE SAYING, WE ARE TIRED OF FUND RAISING FOR MEDICAL BILLS JUST BECAUSE THE TREATMENT IS PROHIBITIVE AND VERY LITTLE IS BEING DONE BY THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.
I represent men and women who travel all the way to Nairobi from hundreds of kilometers to receive the much needed cancer treatment, yet they do not need to do that. I represent the voice of men and women who closed their businesses because they ran out of capital.
“Before I got cancer, I had a thriving business. I had two pieces of land that I wanted to develop”, says Mary (not her real name). When I got sick, I had to close my business. I sold my two pieces of land to meet my medical expenses. Today I have no business; I have no place to call my own. I rely on well wishers to help me…” she says as her voice fades away in tears. Mary is the voice of a cancer survivor. Her narrative is similar to that of many other cancer patients.
We are tired of this happening. We are saying enough is enough. We need something done and done right now. I need to see details of what the government or politicians have planned for cancer. Unless I see this, am sorry I will not give you my vote. You want my vote, do something and do it now. My vote counts.
-The cost of cancer treatment has to be brought down
-Hospitals need to be well equipped so that patients do not have to travel long distances seeking for treatment
-NHIF should FULLY cover cancer patients
With about 40,000 new cancer cases annually and 27,000 lives lost yearly as a result of cancer, you will have no one to govern in a few years’ time if nothing is done. You need a healthy population, you’ve got to do something.