Official opening of the Aga Khan Heart and Cancer Centre, AKUH, Nairobi
Your Highness the Aga Khan, Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to preside over the opening of the Heart and Cancer Centre of the Aga Khan University hospital. The opening of this Centre is a major milestone towards bringing world class healthcare and medical education to Kenya and the wider East African region. The Centre, demonstrates the long term commitment of Your Highness to building excellence in the provision of quality healthcare in our region. Indeed, this state-of-the-art facility will provide an opportunity for Kenya to serve the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Your Highness for the contribution the Aga Khan Development Network continues to make in our country. Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen, There is no doubt that cardiovascular diseases and cancers are increasingly becoming a big health challenge. About 50 Kenyans die daily from various forms of cancers while about 82,000 cases of people suffering from Cancer are diagnosed each year. The opening of the Heart and Cancer Centre is, therefore, a timely response to this threat as it will provide quality care and also create local capacity by training future generations of doctors in the specialties of cardiology and oncology. This Centre will also be used to train professionals and undertake research in these areas. It will enable our professionals and expatriates working outside Kenya to come and offer the much needed services to our people. More importantly, the Centre will play a big role in making our country a major destination for medical tourism in line with VISION TWENTY THIRTY. Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Government attaches great importance to the development of the health sector. This is because the health of our people is crucial for the socio-economic development of the country. It is for this reason that the Government has consistently increased funding for the health sector from 15 billion shillings 8 years ago to about 60 billion shillings currently. However, during the same period, our population has increased and so has the demand for health care services. For this reason, the Government strongly supports the contribution of other players, especially the private sector and our Development Partners, towards complementing the efforts that the Government is making. As a result of our joint efforts, we have recorded positive developments. For instance, the Infant Mortality Rate has declined from 77 per 1000 children born to 52 per 1000. The proportion of children receiving full immunization has also increased from 57 percent in to almost 80 percent. I am happy to note that this Heart and Cancer Centre will be accessible to the poor through the Aga Khan University Hospitals’ Patient Welfare Program. This Program will ensure that world class treatment is available even to those who cannot afford the services. On our part as government and to further enhance access especially to rural populations, the Government will endeavor to establish cancer centres outside Nairobi. The Government is also modernizing facilities at the Kenyatta National Hospital to meet current needs. The Government will also fast track the finalization of the Draft Cancer Bill and Strategy in order to provide a comprehensive framework for the treatment and control of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases. Once enacted, the Bill will complement the Tobacco Control Act and the National Alcohol Control Act that are now operational. Once again I commend Your Highness for your personal initiatives to better the lives of our people. We salute your efforts. I also commend all those who have made their contribution to the establishment of this center. We appreciate your work and look forward to your great service. With these few remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi Heart and Cancer Centre, officially opened. Thank you and God bless you all.