Home Institution

Vanderbilt University

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Kenya: Global Health and Human Rights


The amount of cancer cases in Africa, and Kenya specifically, are rising at an alarming rate. This study was conducted to determine the challenges that patients with cancer in Kenya face to access treatment, care and support. Thirty-nine cancer patients were interviewed and thirty cancer patients filled out a questionnaire about their experiences of having cancer in Kenya. In addition, twenty key informants were interviewed including doctors, caregivers, cancer NGO executives, a researcher, a psychologist, a National Health Insurance Fund official and a director from the Ministry of Health. A breast cancer awareness survey was also administered to fifty-nine women in Kenya to determine their level of breast cancer awareness. Many challenges that cancer patients face in Kenya were identified by the participants. The most common challenge identified was the expensive cost of cancer treatment in Kenya. Other challenges identified include the lack of access to cancer centers and trained specialized oncologists, especially for individuals who live outside Nairobi or in rural areas. Professional burnout and frustration of many medical personnel was reported by doctors and identified by patients and key informants. Psycho-social support and counselling for patients in the hospital setting was found to be lacking. A lack of awareness and knowledge about cancer was found to be rampant throughout Kenya and many study participants identified this as the main cause of stigma faced by cancer patients. Patients suggested that the Kenyan Government should begin to take cancer more seriously and look at ways to decrease the cost of treatment and increase awareness, access to facilities and support for cancer patients.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Epidemiology | Health Policy | Medicine and Health | Oncology | Public Health Education and Promotion | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Health


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