Healthcare provider in Kenya working with patient

Behind every patient

Celebrating health care heroes in Africa providing breast cancer care in the COVID-19 pandemic

Published 05 October 2020, updated 26 October 2020

Behind every breast cancer patient is a team of health care professionals committed to supporting women throughout their cancer journey and delivering safe, quality treatment and care.

The breast cancer patient journey can be difficult, including health, mental, social and financial hurdles. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients are faced with new challenges to access and maintain their care, and are also more vulnerable to severe illness and outcomes from the coronavirus.

Alongside the bravery of breast cancer patients, healthcare professionals (HCPs) have been similarly challenged by the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic. In response, they have adapted care and treatment pathways and pursued innovative ways to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on patients, continuing to help people get the best care possible. HCPs have stood strong on the front lines and remain at the ready to support and provide treatments to women when they need it.

This urgency, courage and tireless pursuit of solutions by the team of health care professionals #BehindEveryPatient is something to be celebrated.

For Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to say ‘thank you’ to the doctors, nurses, radiologists, pharmacists, pathologists and all those involved in providing breast cancer care both inside and outside hospitals. We acknowledge and appreciate the critical role they play, and not just to patients, but to families and communities at large.

Female doctor looking at microscope in lab

Healthcare heroes

Dr. Shahin Sayed is an Anatomical Pathologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi

In Kenya and South Africa, Roche has partnered with advocacy groups to show appreciation to Cancer Health Care Providers (HCPs), who have gone above and beyond to ensure patients receive the necessary care, especially amid a pandemic.

In Kenya, we’re working with the Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations (KENCO), Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), and in South Africa we have partnered with the The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), to encourage people to tell their stories of bravery, compassion and dedication from HCPsand carers who not only deliver quality treatment and care, but deliver hope and strength to their patients.

We encourage everyone to share stories of the health care professionals and carers who are making a difference in the fight against breast cancer by using the #BehindEveryPatient hashtag.

For every unique story shared about health care heroes in Kenya via the #BehindEveryPatient hashtag and WhatsApp line +254 799 400 875, Roche will donate Sh1,000 directly to KENCO. In South Africa, Roche is donating R25 directly to CANSA for every story shared using the #BehindEveryPatient hashtag.

Meet the heroes supporting breast cancer patients in Kenya and South Africa

Every breast cancer journey holds moments that demonstrate the exceptional contributions and compassion given by healthcare professionals, that empower and revitalise women battling breast cancer.

Female doctor looking at chart
Dr. Catherine Nyongesa, Clinical Oncologist “I became the first female radio oncologist in Kenya…I am happy to report we are now offering radiation oncology training at the University of Nairobi, the first one ever.” Dr. Nyongesa leads the country’s largest cancer care centre at Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi.
Male doctor looking at patient
Dr. Asim Jamal, Medical Oncologist “There has been so much advancement in science that has given us so many opportunities. Meaning for all patients with breast cancer, there’s hope.” Dr. Jamal is an Associate Professor and medical oncologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital.
Woman looking at breast cancer scan on screen in hospital
Dr. Rose Ndumia, Consulting Radiologist “For me the most rewarding thing is to see the women get an early diagnosis. I have seen both extremes…and they’re worlds apart.” Dr. Ndumia is a consultant radiologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital and breast imaging specialist.
Two women sitting in chairs sewing
Millicent Kagonga, Caregiver & Advocate “[As a caregiver] I do a lot. I take some to the hospital…I also help the patients to open up to the doctors so that they get the help they need.” Millicent is a cancer survivor and founder of Symbol of Hope Warriors, a Community-Based Organization.
Monica Mphelo social worker
Monica Mphelo, Social Worker at Keurboom CANSA Care Home “Working with cancer patients is truly my passion and my calling, because I want to do anything in my power to help them get better. All my patients are important and special to me, and I am honoured to have been part of the healthcare workers who provided a service to South Africans whilst we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Male nurse doing paper work and smiling
Benbella Onyino, Oncology Nurse “We need more training and advanced technology to deal with [the] menace of cancer. Instead of people going out of the country for cancer treatment, we could have the same here to help our people locally.” Benbella is an oncology nurse working at Kenyatta National Hospital’s adult cancer ward.

Show your support for the healthcare heroes behind every patient

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in both Kenya and the third most deadly.1 Yet, there are only 22 oncologists for a population of 46 million people.2

IN South Africa, research shows that breast cancer is the most common cancer in all women, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 25 in South Africans, according to the 2016 National Cancer Registry (NCR).3

Our commitment to improving breast cancer care

For Roche, it’s important that we do our part to ensure people all over the world have access to quality health care. We recognize that a strong health workforce is critically important to strong health systems that can meet the needs of patients. By working hand-in-hand with partners, including health care professionals, we can reduce the barriers and hurdles patients may encounter on the way to diagnosis, treatment and ultimately recovery.

Now more than ever, it’s more important to recognize and celebrate HCPs and their contributions, sacrifice and courage to meet patient needs during the pandemic.

For Breast Cancer Awareness month, and every month, we hope you’ll join us to say ‘thank you’ to the healthcare professionals across Africa by sharing the stories of the people who have had a positive impact on your breast cancer journey, the journey of a loved one, or on the members of your community.



Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations (KENCO) is the umbrella body of cancer NGOs, patient groups and community-based cancer organizations active in cancer awareness, education, screening, prevention and patient support in Kenya.


Aga Khan University Hospital is a private, not-for-profit institution providing high quality health care.


Kenyatta National Hospital is a public multi-specialty centre of excellence offering services that meet international certification standards.


Standard Group is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services, as well as outdoor advertising.


CANSA is a leader in the fight against cancer in South Africa, since 1931, the purpose of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), is to offer a unique, integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer.

Tags: Society, Patients