Thousands of people gathered at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens in a display of solidarity and to raise funds for childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment during the 2nd annual cancer walk organized by Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital.
The walk brought together individuals, families, and organizations in support of pediatric cancer treatment to raise funds for Gertrude’s Hospital’s cancer treatment center while providing families the opportunity to connect through outdoor physical activities.
Dr Robert Nyarango, Gertrude’s Hospital said the walk was intended to raise awareness about childhood cancers and assist the hospital in accelerating early diagnosis of the disease.
“For the thousands of children who are diagnosed with cancer every year, early detection is key to giving them a good prognosis. It is especially important given that 80% of childhood cancers are curable, but only two out of 10 Kenyan children with the disease get a cure. The funds raised from today’s walk will help us extend the services of our world-class cancer treatment center to even the most vulnerable communities across the country,” said Dr. Nyarango.
On his part, the hospital’s head of Clinical Services, Dr. Thomas Ngwiri, underscored the value of early detection in helping improve treatment outcomes, while stating that the hospital has established a program to step up diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer nationwide.
“We initiated the Kenya Childhood Cancer Program in 2019 and intend for it to run in perpetuity to advance childhood cancer diagnosis and treatment, build the capacity of health workers to detect childhood cancer and provide timely interventions to children diagnosed with cancer. By the end of the first five-year period of the program, we aim to have treated at least 1,000 children,” said Dr Ngwiri.
Gertrude’s Hospital Kenya Childhood Cancer Program is working with County governments to establish a diagnosis and referral system and is already engaging healthcare workers to improve their capacity in providing quality and holistic cancer treatment.
“We are grateful to all the partners who donated, and to everyone who participated in the walk. By lacing their shoes and joining us, they not only managed to raise funds for pediatric cancer treatment but also promote the importance of healthy living while spending quality time with family. The walk has allowed us to increase awareness of childhood cancer while helping to build a stronger support system for all the brave children that are facing the disease,” added Dr. Ngwiri.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 400,000 children under the age of 19 worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year, making it one of the top three causes of mortality for children. There were 3,000 new cases of pediatric cancer in Kenya in 2020, according to the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN), a WHO-run online database of cancer statistics.
The Gertrude’s Hospital’s Cancer Walk event was first held in 2020 and took a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.