By Jepkemei Kibet
Alexandria Cancer Centre and Palliative Care Hospital, started three years ago, has over a short period been elevated to the status of a referral hospital serving thousands of cancer patients within and outside the Western Kenya region.
The facility, which started out as a clinic, aims to provide comprehensive cancer care through promotion, treatment, curative and palliative care services. The disease burden has caused a huge demand for cancer care services that has pushed the hospital to open up two more branches making a total of three; two in Eldoret and another in Nakuru town.
The Ministry of Health statistics show that 22,000 people die annually from cancer-related complications while 28,000 new cases are reported every year. Duncan Odongo, the hospital’s General Manager, said it was evident that patients had to travel far and wide to seek treatment in Eldoret hence the need to open up a branch in Nakuru.
“Our records showed that we had patients from as far as Bomet, Kericho, Eldama Ravine, Gilgil and Naivasha. Considering access to treatment, a new branch in Nakuru would therefore help them cut down on travel costs since the disease also drains the patients financially,” said Mr. Odongo.
Some of their clinical services include 24 hour outpatient and inpatient services, Haematology (blood cancers and disorders), Gynaecologic Oncology, Paediatric Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Medical Oncology, Cancer screening, Chemotherapy infusion services, Nuclear medicine, Theatre and ICU services.
Diagnostic services used include Radiology and Imaging, Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI and Mammogram, while support services range from nutrition, physiotherapy, psychological counselling, training, spiritual counselling, pain management, wound care and a 24 hour ambulance services.
In-patient service has capacity to accommodate 60 patients in Eldoret and 30 patients in Nakuru; either undergoing the planned treatment or palliative care services. Palliative care is paramount. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness.
It is done through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. The care offers relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. It also offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and a support system to help the family cope during the patients’ illness and in their bereavement among other benefits.
The hospital has two resident doctors; Dr. Elias Melly, a Clinical Oncologist and Dr. Beatrice Jepng’etich, a Clinical Haematologist (cancers of the blood). It also employs the services of other specialist and consultants on a need basis and has about 120 hospital staff working in the three branches.
Mr. Odongo noted that they have opened another facility in Kapsabet; Alexandria General Hospital which will now provide all the other general hospital services unlike the other three Cancer Centres. The hospital is also keen on embracing research, training, innovation and collaboration in patient care.