AMPALAK-Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda yesterday said that the government is to establish regional cancer treatment centres after Parliament passed the Uganda Cancer Institute Bill last week.
The legislation will grant the Institute a semi–autonomy status and empower it to set countryside branches closer to the people who need the services.
Cancer treatment for now is centralised only at UCI at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala. “[The] government will ensure that the Uganda Cancer Institute Bill which was passed is quickly operationalised,” Dr Rugunda said.
Speaking on behalf of President Museveni at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of six radiotherapy bunkers, the premier said: “Government is committed to providing high technology modern radiotherapy equipment to be installed in these bunkers as soon as construction is complete.”
He also commissioned the six-storey UCI constructed with funding from the Intentional Atomic Energy Agency, the US-based Fred Hutchinson Research Institute and African Development Bank.
Dr Rugunda challenged Roko Construction Company Ltd, the contractors, to expedite the constructions without compromising their quality.
UCI director Jackson Orem said the bunkers will house Linear accelerators brachytherapy machines and a control room.
“Uganda with its current 35 million people needs about 40 bunkers with radiotherapy machines spread across the country,” he said.
Health Minister Elioda Tumwesigye said cancer kills about 47,000 Ugandans annually in addition to 60,000 new cancer cases.
The minister, quoting official statistics, said 8 out of every 10 cancer newly-diagnosed cancer patients die within a year due to late diagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
Vaccinations against hepatitis B to prevent cancer of the liver and human papilloma virus to prevent cancer of the cervix are some key interventions, Dr Tumwesigye said.
The regional cancer centres are to be established in Arua, Mbarara, Mbale and Gulu.
Dr Rugunda said the government was in final stages of negotiations to obtain Austrian government soft loan funding which will be used to set up the regional cancer centres.