By Verah Okeyo
It was a tumultuous year, research scientists say of 2019, as they point to cholera that swept through Mozambique, threatening the population just as the protracted Ebola crisis hit the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Cholera has also been a challenge in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and these diseases, the researchers say, were a wake-up call for East Africa.
Now, they predict that cancers, emerging and re-emerging infections and climate change are going to be the biggest focus of the global health community in 2020.
Cancer has shaken the region due to the high rate of new cases and deaths from it. A Harvard School of Public Health paper published in the journal Science reported that cancer deaths are nearly three times more in developing countries than in high-income countries.
Sam Kariuki, a professor of microbiology and senior researcher at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), said these high numbers and the deaths of high profile people have pushed governments to invest in cancer research.
Prof Kariuki made reference to the government-funded cancer centres in Kenya and Uganda.
According to the cancer registry kept by the World Health Organisation, Uganda reported 32,617 cancer cases in 2017, with 151 deaths per 100,000 people. Tanzania reported 42,060 cancer cases and 132 deaths per 100,000 people. Kenya had the highest rate of cancer cases in the region with 47,887 and 176 deaths per 100,000 people. Read more…