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MoH launches Kenya Cancer Policy 2019-2030 document – KBC

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The Ministry of Health has Friday launched the Kenya Cancer Policy 2019-2030 and the Breast Cancer Screening Pilot Report.

Recognizing the burden of cancer in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta on 1st August 2019 directed the Ministry of Health to develop a cancer policy to address the growing burden of the disease to the country.

The Cancer Policy document provides a framework on how to comprehensively manage cancer in the country through the systematic implementation of evidence-based interventions in the area of care.

While launching the policy and breast cancer pilot report, CAS Dr Rashid Aman said the Ministry has put in place deliberate efforts to improve access to cancer services in line with the Universal Health Coverage agenda.

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“Through the Managed Equipment Service (MES), the Ministry has availed x-ray, CT-SCAN equipment, ultrasound and mammography machines to the counties to boost cancer diagnosis.”

In collaboration with the counties, the Ministry has established 10 county chemotherapy centres which are all operational and fully functional.

Aman said that his Ministry has continued to support these centres with appropriate cancer drugs, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to urge our cancer patients on active treatment as well as those on follow up to embrace and utilize these service,” Aman said.

The CAS also said that Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital was recently operationalised.

“Five additional radiotherapy centres are being set up in Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nakuru County Referral Hospital, Mombasa County Referal Hospital, Garissa County and Kisii County,” Aman said.

Focusing on the maxim that prevention better than cure, the Ministry in addition launched the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine is targeting 10-year-old girls.

“I, therefore, want to encourage parents to take their girls for vaccination at their nearest health facility.”

The Ministry has also developed and disseminated the  National Cancer Screening Guidelines to all the 47 counties.

According to the “Breast Health Awareness Campaign” launched, it revealed that Breast Cancer is the leading type of cancer in Kenya with about 6,000 new cases every year.

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Lights, camera, action! Artistes brighten economy

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Covid-19 had negatively impacted entertainment revenues.

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KRA must ease tax filing to boost revenues

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Nikhil Hira Independent tax consultant and Director Bowmans Coulson Harney (law firm). [Courtesy]

Anyone who has been following Kenya’s budgets over the last few years will recall headlines each year saying that the country has set its largest-ever budget. 

The upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year is no exception, with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announcing a budget of Sh3.6 trillion – yes, the biggest ever! A little over Sh2 trillion will come from government revenues, with approximately Sh1.8 trillion of this from tax revenues. 

The balance will be borrowed – another common feature of the last few years. 

This year’s budget comes amidst an economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the inherent assumption that the pandemic will come to an end before the start of the next financial year. 

Given surges in infections that are being seen globally, and indeed in Kenya, this assumption may well be the deal-breaker. 

The Ministry of Health has already said that Kenya may see another wave of infections in July, fuelled by the Indian variant. This could result in more lockdowns with the associated impact on the economy and indeed revenue collections. The lack of vaccines is an issue that the government must address as a matter of great urgency if the country is to get through the pandemic without further economic woes. 

While deficits in government budgets are not uncommon, Kenya seems to be annually widening the gap between expenditure and revenues. 

If one applies this model to their household budget, the upshot will almost certainly be bankruptcy. 

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What is actually required is curtailing recurring government expenditures, which is something that the government has acknowledged in the past with proposed austerity measures. 

The reality is that Kenya has not succeeded in doing this, and the pressure on revenue collection is exacerbated. 

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When you add to the high level of wastage and corruption we are witnessing, the deficit will almost certainly continue to widen. 

The responsibility for tax collection and enforcement lies with the Kenya Revenue Authority better (KRA). 

There is no doubt that the authority has improved significantly in this task since it was set up in 1995. 

The taxman estimates that 4.4 million tax returns were filed by June 30 last year, up from 3.6 million in the previous year.  While this is a significant improvement, when compared to the country’s population, this number of returns seems unusually low. 

The increase in the number of tax returns, is to a large extent, due to the online reporting system, iTax, and a major push by KRA through taxpayer education.

There is no doubt that the online system has made filing tax returns significantly easier and gone are the large queues of people witnessed at Times Tower on deadline day. 

That said, there is still much to be done to make filing returns a seamless and painless exercise. 

System downtime during filing periods is something that all of us will have experienced, although, in typical Kenyan fashion, we inevitably wait until the last day to file our returns as we do with most things! 

The spreadsheet that one uses to file a return is by no means the simplest to use.  One key issue seems to be that taxpayers are not alerted to changes in the model until they try to upload a return. 

The spreadsheet does not allow one to make it more relevant to their sources of income – in essence, it is too rigid and inflexible. KRA should be able to rectify this without too much effort.

Last year was unusual in that different rates of tax were applicable in the first quarter as compared to the rest of the year.  This followed the Covid-19 relief measures that were introduced in April 2020. 

There was much debate about whether the changes were meant to apply for the whole year or whether some form of apportionment was needed. 

In the end, the decision was made for apportionment. One can argue about what the correct treatment should be, but the issue was how long it took for the decision to be made and, indeed, to amend the iTax system. 

The age-old notion has always been that the more complex and difficult it is to file a tax return, the more likely it will be that taxpayers simply won’t file their returns. While the issue with the system has been resolved, there is an inherent administrative issue here that must be addressed. 

KRA has to be significantly more proactive in dealing with changes in rates and law to ensure the least inconvenience to taxpayers. 

The writer, Nikhil Hira, is the Director of Bowmans Kenya.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Bowmans Kenya  

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The age of gentrification is truly upon our country

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Never mind the businessmen outside Nairobi could be richer. Rural folks aspire to one day moved to a new county (city).

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