Less than 1 in 5 children survives eye cancer in Africa. Kenya is building hope for many.
The combination of poverty and retinoblastoma in Africa is devastating, but many precious children will be saved by increasing awareness for early diagnosis, improving access to treatments that already exist across the continent, strengthening medical care and providing compassionate support to meet family needs throughout the cancer journey.
The Kenya National Retinoblastoma Strategy
The Kenya National Retinoblastoma Strategy (KNRbS) is building a sustainable program to provide effective care for children and their families across Kenya and Eastern Africa. The KNRbS Group includes medical professionals, parents and survivors, health advocates and community & government leaders.
Kenya is ideal to develop a model retinoblastoma strategy for developing countries.
The country has a relatively stable economy, political history and health system.
Nairobi is the leading financial, transport and aid hub for Africa.
25% of eye care workers in sub-Saharan Africa train in Nairobi.
Children from across Eastern Africa travel to Kenya for retinoblastoma care.
John White, father of our co-founder Abby, was born in Kitale and diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes as an infant in 1946 Nairobi.
Laying the Foundations
At the first KNRbS meeting in 2008, we identified available resources, gaps in knowledge and care, and major challenges to survival. We are now implementing awareness, medical care and family support solutions to bring more effective care to children and their families.
Some solutions have been quickly introduced. Others are large projects requiring patience, determination and teamwork over many years. Together, they will create a sturdy national approach to retinoblastoma that improves survival and quality of life.
The Annual Meeting
The annual KNRbS meeting is a central feature of the national strategy. These multidisciplinary meetings are essential to:
promote local creativity and leadership in building effective care;
support collaborative development of solutions to challenge poor survival;
aid regular evaluation of performance and success during each year;
update professionals unable to attend international medical conferences; and
dissolve isolation felt by many who care for children with retinoblastoma.
Climbing the Mountain
The following words were spoken by Brian Ouma, Kenya’s Chief Executive, in his address at the official launch of the KNRbS in 2008:
“’From this moment forward, we go boldly together where there is yet no path in Kenya, and we will leave for those behind us not just a trail, but a clear avenue of hope. We will forge a path through the valley of darkness that is childhood cancer, up to the summit of the mountain that is cure and survival. One day soon, we will stand on that mountain top, and celebrate the vibrant young lives saved by our endeavours.
“I wish all participants at this meeting fruitful deliberations and God’s wisdom as we chart this new and exciting course. I believe in miracles and in your miraculous minds, hearts and hands that are going to take our country towards the beautiful mountain summit that is the end of avoidable suffering from retinoblastoma.”
Beacon Fellowship Award
The Kenya National Retinoblastoma Strategy was Highly Commended by the 2009 Beacon Fellowship Awards, in the category of New Initiatives. The Beacon Fellowship is a UK Cabinet Office sponsored program recognizing outstanding charitable activities.