KAMPALA, April 6 — The Uganda cancer institute is set to be transformed into a centre of excellence under a US$45m (about 126bn) fund.
The loan to be procured by government from the African Development Bank is geared at establishing the East African oncology centre that will train medical professionals; build a research centre and provide more care through establishing regional cancer centres.
An oncology centre is a facility which offers comprehensive cancer care, with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and psychotherapy and boasts a team of skilled medical professionals with extensive knowledge and experience on cancer and its management
According to Dr Jackson Erem, the executive director of the institute, they have started carrying out feasibility studies in the four regions where the centres will be set saying that this will be done within their 10-year strategic plan.
Addressing journalists at the Institute’s head offices at Mulago, Dr Erem stressed that Uganda has been recognized globally towards its tremendous work in offering treatment and research saying this offers it a better position to act as a centre of excellence for East African community where patients can be referred for comprehensive treatment.
He expressed optimism that the centre of excellence will lead to the increase in the survival rate of all cancer patients.
Currently every out of 100 cancer patients only 20% can survive.
According to him for every 100,000 people tested, 200 of them are diagnosed with the disease meaning they are new cancer patients.
Dr Joyce Balagadde, the head of pediatric and research at the institute explained that viral infection related cancers are on increase and currently contributing to 60% of all cancers.
“We are redirecting our efforts on these cancers because they can easily cure if reported at an early stage,” she said.
She stressed that in collaboration with international organizations, they have started carrying out research to establish which infections cause cancers, saying this has greatly become a burden amongst children who suffer from the Burkitt’s lymphoma cancer, women who suffer from cervical cancer among others
Benjamin Mwesigye, the head of pharmacy at the institute, observed that most cancers are preventable and treatable but due to the fact that people report it late, this has led to death of many.
“We are lucky that most of our cancers is affecting children because the younger, the better one can tolerate treatment which is a big advantage unlike in other countries where it’s the aged people suffering from cancers,” he said.
Dr Balagadde revealed that they are planning to set up a designated place for children saying a third (1/3) of the patients admitted with cancer are children aged between 1-15years.
She however said that only 4% of the children referred to the institute report to the hospital yet the survival rate is at 30%.