Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has announced its 2nd Annual Cancer Walk event, that aims to raise Ksh. 15 million to improve early cancer diagnosis and treatment in children.

The walk, scheduled for May 21, aims to help children from low income communities access cancer care as part of Kenya’s drive to reduce childhood cancer mortality. The walk will begin at Uhuru Gardens and will consist of a 13 kilometer circuit on the Southern Bypass or a shorter 5 kilometer trail.

Speaking about the event, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital CEO Dr. Robert Nyarango encouraged the public to participate in the walk to help fight the growing cancer epidemic.

“Thousands of children are fighting cancer in this country each year. For many of them, diagnosis and treatment is out of reach. The number of new cases is rising alarmingly, especially considering that many people including health workers may not recognise the symptoms or access early diagnosis and treatment. While 80% of childhood cancers are treatable, only 1 out of 10 children are cured of cancer in Kenya.”

The Hospital’s Head of Medical Services Dr. Thomas Ngwiri confirmed that Gertrude’s has established a national program to diagnose and treat children with cancer. This includes the development of a national referral system for children newly diagnosed with cancer to receive treatment.

The walk comes shortly after Kenya held its first National Cancer Summit, which noted that funding for treating the disease in the country is insufficient and that improving requires a multi-stakeholder approach. According to GLOBOCAN (Global Cancer Observatory), an online database of cancer statistics, there were over 3,000 new cases of cancer in children aged 19 and under in 2020. The estimates, however, are thought to be lower than actual figures because lack of awareness has a significant impact on cancer reporting and diagnosis in children.

Cancer is among the three leading cause of death among children and adolescents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Children in high income countries have an 80% chance of survival, compared to less than 30% in low- and middle-income countries.