By John Wanjohi
US-based Kenyan Nuclear Medicine expert John Gitau Wairimu has advised the Kenyan government on how to address the cancer menace in the country.
Gitau, who made history by being among the first four students in the United States to graduate with a Master’s degree in Nuclear Medicine in 2017, said the government’s main focus should be to diagnose cancer in the early stages.
“While declaring cancer a national disaster in Kenya is progress; the real issue here is when and how do we diagnose cancer during the early stages when it is still manageable and can respond to therapy,” said Gitau.
The 35-year-old further said the government needs to invest in nuclear medicine procedures, which he noted that can detect cancer cells earlier than x-rays and CAT scans can do.
“My advice to the Government as a Nuclear medicine expert is to prioritize the adaption of better diagnostic equipment and methods. Nuclear medicine procedures can detect cancer cells many months before x-ray and CAT Scans do, and actually show the cell physiology, but Nuclear medicine is not practiced in Kenya yet there is a Nuclear regulation commission in the Government; its purpose we don’t know,” he posed.
Gitau explained that by the time a patient in Kenya is diagnosed with cancer through x-rays and CAT scans, it would have reached the final stages, hence incurable.
“…going to India or England will not save the patient; stage 4 cannot be saved by medical tourism to India or the United States or the United Kingdom,” said Gitau.
He concluded: “To the Kenyan government: adopting early detection methods like nuclear medicine will be the only way out.”
Gitau, together with three other Americans became the first four students in the whole of the US to attain a Master’s Degree in the field in 2017. The four graduated from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB).
The study of Nuclear Medicine Technology was first launched in the 1950s. Nuclear Medicine Technology is widely used in diagnosing and staging cancer, detecting heart problems and brain infections among others.