The partnership will see the engagement of health workers living with disabilities to promote cancer care and treatment
Nairobi 5th October 2021: Amref Health Africa signs a partnership agreement with Roche East Africa Limited to implement a two-year programme aimed at addressing and reducing the burden of cervical and breast cancer, among women in rural and low resource settings using Community Health Workers (CHWs) living with disabilities.
CHWs are uniquely placed to link communities with the health system, playing a role in improving the reach of health systems and bringing health services closer to hard-to-reach and marginalized groups. However, since the inception of the CHW concept world over, no effort has been put in place to engage women living with disabilities in providing care to cancer patients. This is a first of its kind –as it seeks to strengthen and improve primary health care through the delivery of better health outcomes by enhancing breast and cervical cancer prevention, treatment, control, and management.
“Persons with disabilities often experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and often face conditions that impact negatively on their health, including lack of access to education, sanitary living conditions, clean water, and food security, among others. And while governments cannot offer guarantees against illness or disease, they are responsible for undertaking measures to advance human health, whether in the social, physical, legal, or economic environments,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO Amref Health Africa. “In this partnership, we are working together with county Governments and the ministry of health to ensure that CHWs with disabilities are not left out in advancing critical health information to communities,” he added.
Besides providing care to all community members, the project will allow the CHWs to take advantage of the benefits of the same health promotion and prevention activities experienced by people without disabilities, thus eliminating discrimination of members with disabilities in supporting community work.
Therefore, Amref in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, county governments through this funding from Roche will equip 100 community health workers to ensure correct information reaches the households, demystify myths and misconceptions surrounding breast and cervical cancer in seven pilot counties. The number of CHWS will comprise 30 blind persons, 42 deaf, and 28 persons without any disability. The training will be conducted using both face-to-face and mHealth technology driven Leap smart – with a focus on the community health volunteer basic training topics. Smartphones will be used to support the deaf in illustrating cases of breast and cervical cancer screening, symptoms, and interpretation of results. The Leap’s Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) functionality will be used to train the blind. The CHWs will then help in promoting awareness, screening, data collection, and reporting, as well as supporting health insurance registration.
“Breast cancer is one of the most detectable and treatable forms of cancer if found early. We’re working to remove access roadblocks and bring screening to women across Kenya through the new EMPOWER cancer centres. It will be incredible to see what a difference increased screenings will make for the women of Kenya. Through this partnership with Amref, we demonstrate that everyone can contribute to the health and well-being of the community. I am personally very touched that this program goes this extra step beyond, and I believe it sets a standard for holistic and inclusive approaches to care and community building, said Frank Loeffler, General Manager for Roche in East Africa.
“Empowering the community is essential to tackling breast cancer in Kenya,” said H.E Maria Mbeneka – Chair person CFLA. “From raising awareness around screening and treatment centers like the EMPOWER clinics, to building a community of support for women affected with cancer, we are building a strong foundation and a strong network of partners who are dedicated to reducing the incidence of breast cancer including women with disabilities in the program will transform and change the Health system.”
Some of the outcomes of the project will include reduced morbidity and mortality rates associated with cancers among women, specifically breast and cervical cancers among women in underserved communities through improving early screening and referral for breast and cervical cancer that leads to early diagnosis and treatment and better outcomes for patients.
About Amref Health Africa
Amref Health Africa is the largest Africa-based International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO) and is headquartered in Kenya. With a focus on increasing sustainable health access, Amref manages programmes in over 35 countries in Africa, with lessons learned over 60 years of engagement with governments, communities, and partners. Amref also engages in programme development, fundraising, partnership, advocacy, monitoring, and evaluation. Amref has offices in Europe and North America and operates its subsidiaries: Amref Flying Doctors, Amref Health Enterprises, and Amref International University.
About Roche East Africa Limited
Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with differentiated and innovative medicines in various disease areas including oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a key player in the optimized management of diabetes. The combined strength of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and diabetes care has made Roche a global leader in personalized healthcare – an approach that aims to improve treatment outcomes by tailoring treatments to target patient populations that stand to benefit most from these treatments.
The implementation of this program is made possible through strong partnerships with Makueni County Government, International Cancer Institute (ICI), County First Ladies Association (CFLA), Women 4 Cancer and Africa Cancer Foundation) and have 10 EMPOWER Clinics: Kisumu, Meru, Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Laikipia, Marsabit, Kajiado and Bomet.
EMPOWER stands for Enabling and Motivating Partnerships Owned by Women who Engage & Reclaim their lives. The aim is to advocate for the education, prevention, early detection and treatment with standard of care for breast and cervical cancer.
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