Improving Care for Cancer Patients at Kenyatta National Hospital

 {Photo credit: MSH}A patient receives treatment in a new chemotherapy seat.Photo credit: MSH

The Kenyatta National Hospital Cancer Treatment Center (CTC) is the only health facility in Kenya where the poor can obtain advanced comprehensive treatment for cancer. But given the high demand for services, these patients often experience delays of up to five weeks to see a doctor, resulting in complications and, in some cases, death. This situation is exacerbated by insufficient medical personnel as well as inadequate and in some cases dilapidated equipment.

In February 2013, the CTC team was taking part in a six-month Leadership Development Program (LDP) offered to KNH by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)- funded Leadership Management and Sustainability (LMS) Project in Kenya, led by Management Sciences for Health. The LDP teaches participants how to create a work environment that motivates staff and encourages them to continuously improve client services. The CTC decided to work together to change their current situation and ensure more timely appointments with health workers for the estimated 2,500 new cancer patients it receives each year. The team chose to work on reducing waiting time for new patients from five weeks to three weeks. Through the LDP, the team worked together to build their skills in problem solving, team work, resource mobilization, stakeholder mobilization, and partnership.

Using their new skills, the team improved the management of the doctor-patient scheduling system, resulting in more new patients being booked to see a doctor more quickly. They also acquired more computers and proper chemotherapy seats to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatment. The team convinced the KNH management to purchase a piece of land to facilitate the expansion of the CTC to increase its capacity to accommodate more patients. The team mobilized over US$7 million towards improving the quality of service delivery at the Center. By the end of six months, the team had surpassed their target by reducing the waiting time for cancer patients from five weeks to one week.

Pleased with their results, the CTC team is now tackling two new challenges: working towards equipping satellite cancer centers to increase the number of facilities providing care, and working to reduce patient waiting time to access radiation therapy from five months to two months.

An LDP participant noted when referring to the future of the Center:

We learned a lot from the LDP. We want to use this knowledge and these skills to work towards becoming a world class center providing innovative quality care to cancer patients.

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