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Cancer imaging center boosts hopes

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-10-18 09:29

An advanced cancer imaging center built with Chinese aid near Nairobi is expected to greatly facilitate treatment of patients in the region.

The Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital, in Kiambu county, is the first of its kind in the region. It was engineered, procured, built and financed by China Jiangxi International Economic& Technical Cooperation.

The center was developed as part of the Kenyan government's effort to expand access to cancer treatment in the country. It has a capacity of 100 patients and their families.

Speaking at the official opening on Saturday, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's president, said the government had invested in the screening and treatment facility in response to rising cases of cancer-related deaths in the country.

"We are making these investments in recognition of the fact that cancer is the third-leading cause of death in Kenya, and projections show that the burden of the disease will grow by approximately 85 percent by 2030, unless we as a government take bold steps to address the challenges related to this disease, he said

"The Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre Hospitality and Accommodation Centre will ensure that a family can stay close to their loved one receiving treatment here, while also providing accommodation for outpatients from far afield as they await subsequent rounds of treatment. This will eliminate the need for the long back-and-forth journeys that levy a heavy toll on their health and recovery."

The hospital is just one result of increasing technological collaboration between Kenya and China. It was built with the help of a concessional loan by the Export and Import Bank of China.

In 2011 a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Chinese and Kenyan governments relating to Chinese support in preparation, design, development of hospital infrastructure, equipment, personnel and capacity building.

Kenyan authorities took charge of the $104 million hospital in May 2019, but China has continued to offer peripheral support in terms of capacity building and acquiring equipment.

When the hospital, about 45 minutes' drive from downtown Nairobi, was handed over it was already equipped with 21 intensive care unit beds and 10 high dependence unit beds with specialized equipment and a medical linear accelerator machine in the oncology department.

As the government continues to expand the use of such equipment, Kenyatta said the greatest bottleneck in cancer management in Kenya has been the lack of adequate facilities for early diagnosis and accurate stage grouping, a challenge he said the facility seeks to resolve.

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