How Johnson & Johnson, Amref are tackling cancer in Kenya

by Amref Health Africa

The ongoing efforts to promote excellence in oncology nursing and quality cancer care in Kenya have received a boost following the launch of Oncology Nursing Training Initiative.

Cancer is a major public health issue and represents a significant burden of disease globally. In the past few years, Cancer prevalence in Kenya has continued to rise, posing a widespread staffing problem.

Kenya has continued to face rising demand for Oncology personnel, especially nurses where the need is a minimum of 500 nurses yet there are only 36 qualified nurses.

This has put extreme workforce pressure on cancer services, and a serious blow to patient care at a time when cases of cancer prognosis are on the rise.

Towards this, Johnson and Johnson Global Community Impact (JNJ GCI), under the leadership of the Ministry of Health has partnered with Amref Health Africa to launch a training initiative to guide the development of new programmes, projects, and resources to meet the needs of Oncology nurses.

The Initiative will, over the next three years work to bridge the gap in the number of oncology nurses by supporting the training of a minimum of 200 higher diploma nurses that will be deployed to the ten oncology centers under development by the Ministry of Health.

It will also provide a certificate short course training for four nurses per county and deploy a continuous professional development course to ensure continuous quality improvement in knowledge and cancer patient care.

Under the leadership of the National Cancer Control program, this initiative will also support the standardization of the curricula for oncology nursing to increase the number of institutions offering the training.

“Oncology nursing is a labor of love. Nurses who work in oncology are indispensable to their patients, not only providing physical care and patient education but also ministering to patients’ emotional, mental, social, and spiritual needs. Access to the needed resources, training and support is vital, and we are happy to commence efforts that address challenges that accompany the work of oncology nursing,” Dr. Ejersa Waqo, Head of Non-communicable disease Ministry of Health said.

All the trainings have the goal to empower nurses to provide high-quality oncology care through improved knowledge, increased confidence and updated nursing practice in line with global standards, for the ultimate benefit of cancer patients.

Speaking on behalf of the Johnson and Johnson Global Community Impact Director for Sub-Sahara Africa Director, Anthony Gitau, during the Oncology Nurses Kenya Chapter Annual Conference 2019, Grace Humwa, the Oncology Product Manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson said that the initiative will build long-term capacity to treat and improve the prognosis of cancer patients in Kenya.

“We are proud to launch the first comprehensive Oncology nursing training initiative in the country. We believe it will drive clinical excellence in oncology and deliver streamlined, effective practice resources to the nurses to advance the art and science of caring for patients with cancer,” Ms. Humwa said while addressing delegates during the conference.

“This initiative reaffirms commitment to supporting and strengthening front line health workers that are at the heart of delivering care and elevating the role of the nurse and oncology clinical nurse excellence, by developing new solutions and resources that support the patient journey from diagnosis to assessment, intervention, symptom management, and survivorship,” said Gitau.

The initiative was established to advance innovative solutions and meet the current and future needs in oncology patient care.

On her part, Clinical Business Lead at Amref Health Africa Dr. Catherine Kanari noted that the partnership to establish an oncology nursing initiative is in line with Amref’s’ strategy to develop practical solutions and advocates for improved health care delivery.

“We are eager to get started on this critical initiative, working with Johnson and Johnson Global Community Impact and drawing on our expertise of building sustainable health systems in underserved countries and communities, we will help make a significant difference in the outcomes for cancer patients while creating a blueprint for other countries to follow,” Dr. Kanari noted.

While addressing the delegates at the Conference, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital College of Health Sciences Oncology Course Coordinator Ms. Carol Sebulei said that the Initiative will also create significant clinical, educational and research capabilities.

“The School of Health Science is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing an unmet medical need,” Ms. Sebulei said. “We are excited about this partnership that advocates for patient care, all to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with cancer and their families.”

The Oncology Nursing Training Initiative is building on a solid foundation for cancer treatment in the country that has seen a renewed focus in the recent past.

Article first published on

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