6 Prominent Kenyans among 32,987 killed by cancer in one year

Three days after the death of Kibra constituency MP Hon Ken Okoth, Kenyans were met with the shocking news of the death of Bomet County Governor Dr Joyce Cherono Laboso. Dr Laboso was pronounced dead at Nairobi hospital at around 3 PM. Dr Joyce Laboso (59) had been battling colon cancer for some time now. Three months ago she undertook treatments from UK and India but immediately she jetted back in the country, she got admitted at the Nairobi Hospital from where she was pronounced dead while in the ICU.

Similarly story can be written of Mr Ken Okoth (41) who was receiving his treatment in France for more than two months. Ken Okoth made a public appearance two weeks ago at a CDF bursary function in his constituency where he appeared to be very fragile. He later succumbed to colorectal cancer last Friday also at Nairobi Hospital.  Another leader that took his last bow in the country was Safaricom CEO Mr Bob Collymore. Mr Bob Collymore had been battling cancer of the blood known as Acute Myeloid Leukemia for a while. He also undertook treatment outside the country for nearly a year. He returned back to the country then continued with treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital. On 1st July 2019 however, he succumbed to the Acute Myeloid Leukemia cancer.

Other leaders that have died with cancer in the past one year that is from 2018 include former Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization Chairperson Jane Kiano. At the age of 74 Jane Kiano died of lung cancer while at the Nairobi hospital in October 2018. She was followed by former Migori Senator Mr Ben Oluoch who was 55 years old. Mr Ben Oluoch died in June after a prolonged battle with cancer of the throat. Last but not least was the former Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim aged 49. While undergoing treatment at the Nairobi hospital she was pronounced dead in April 2018 succumbing to acute colon cancer.

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Although we only know of the six prominent Kenyans who succumbed to the dreaded disease, a total of 47,877 new cancer cases were reported in 2018, 32, 987 of whom died with women taking the larger share of the deaths at the rate of 18,772. Men who succumbed to the disease in 2018 were 14, 215. Today the Ministry of health ranks cancer as the third killer disease in Kenya after Pneumonia in position 1 and Malaria in position 2. Many have called on the government to declare cancer a national disaster, but a significant number of Kenyans are terming such calls as hypictrical, simply because in July 2019 alone three prominent Kenyans, two of them being politicians, succumbed to the menace. It is being said that up to 7 legislatures are currently receiving treatments related to cancer in India.

See also: The death of Dr Joyce Laboso brings into focus the discussion of cancer as a national disaster

Adrian Opiyo

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