Gertrude's Children's Hospital has announced its 2nd Annual Cancer Walk, which is seeking to raise Sh15 million to enhance early diagnosis and treatment of cancer among children.

The walk slated for May 21, 2023 seeks to assist children coming from low-income areas to get access to cancer care as part of Kenya's drive to reduce childhood cancer mortality.

This year’s cancer walk is scheduled to commence at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi and will be comprised of a 13km circuit on the Southern Bypass and a shorter 5km trail.

Gertrude's Children’s Hospital CEO Dr Robert Nyarango has appealed to members of the Kenyan public to register and join the walk to help fight the fast-growing cancer scourge.

“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 per cent of childhood cancers are treatable, only 1 out of 10 children are cured of cancer in Kenya,” Nyarango said.

He affirmed the hospital’s commitment to improve outcomes for children fighting cancer.

“This requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-faceted approach that brings together financing, human capital and facilities to reach even the most vulnerable with life-saving care,” the doctor added.

Getrude’s Head of Medical Services Dr Thomas Ngwiri said the facility has established a national program to diagnose and treat children with cancer.

Ngwiri says the hospital will also support the development of a national referral system for children newly diagnosed with cancer to enable them to receive the needed treatment.

“Our aim is to diagnose and treat 1,000 children with cancer in the next five years,” he said.

The walk comes hot on the heels of Kenya holding its first National Cancer Summit, and Ngwiri called for more funding and coordination in the fight against the disease in Kenya.

According to Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN), an online database of cancer statistics, there were over 3,000 new cases of cancer in children aged 19 and below in 2020.

However, experts believe the estimates are much lower than the actual figures due to lack of proper awareness hence adversely impacting cancer reporting and diagnosis in children.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is among the three leading causes of death among children and adolescents.

WHO noted that children with cancer in high-income countries have an 80 per cent chance of survival, compared to less than 30 per cent in low- and middle-income countries.

The cancer programme by Gertrude’s seeks to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment in children while building the capacity of medics to detect early warning signs of childhood cancer and treat or refer them and to accord them timely interventions.

The Gertrude's Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Walk event was first held in 2020 but was forced to take a break during the Covid-19 pandemic.