Improving Access to Cancer Testing and Treatment in Kenya.
PURPOSE:In response to the increasing cancer burden in Kenya, this study identified barriers to patients seeking access to cancer testing and treatment and to clinicians in delivering these services. Policy recommendations based on findings are presented. METHODS:This qualitative study used semistructured key informant interviews. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 14 participants: seven oncology clinicians and seven support and advocacy leaders for patients with cancer. Qualitative analysis was used to identify themes. RESULTS:Seven barriers to cancer testing and treatment were identified: high cost of testing and treatment, low level of knowledge about cancer among population and clinicians, poor health-seeking behaviors among population, long distances to access diagnostic and treatment services, lack of decentralized diagnostic and treatment facilities, poor communication, and lack of better cancer policy development and implementation. CONCLUSION:Kenyans seeking cancer services face significant barriers that result in late presentation, misdiagnosis, interrupted treatment, stigma, and fear. Four policy recommendations to improve access for patients with cancer are (1) improve health insurance for patients with cancer; (2) establish testing and treatment facilities in all counties; (3) acquire diagnosis and treatment equipment and train health personnel to screen, diagnose, and treat cancer; and (4) increase public health awareness and education about cancer to improve diagnoses and treatment. Effective cancer testing and treatment options can be developed to address cancer in a resource-constrained environment like Kenya. An in-depth look at effective interventions and policies being implemented in countries facing similar challenges would provide valuable lessons to Kenya's health sector and policymakers.
Makau-Barasa, LK; Greene, SB; Othieno-Abinya, NA; Wheeler, S; Skinner, A; Bennett, AV
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