Uganda and the rest of the world have faced a number of diseases and one of the silent killer diseases has always been cancer because looking at the current statistics of the most killer diseases, cancer has always been at the top. Cancer is a broad term, largely describing the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. It is also believed to be a group of more than 100 different diseases which can develop anywhere in the human body.
People are under-insured and financially burdened by the cost of cancer care and are equally faced with a choice between their money and their lives, which sometimes leads some patients to lose both their money and their life.
Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) was founded to manage cancer. By then, the institute, with only 20 beds, treated child lymphomas, an endemic that was affecting tropical Africa.
In 1969, the UCI was expanded to 40 beds. It had established a working collaboration with National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, in US, which provided nearly all the guidance and technical help to UCI.
The institute is a public facility under the Ministry of Health with main focus on research, training, consultation, prevention and cancer treatment in areas of pediatrics, oncology, gynecology, and radiotherapy, surgery, pharmacy and recently, venturing into bone marrow transplants. This has been done from the beginning and to date, the institute is operating smoothly.
At UCI, patients receive palliative care and rehabilitation services. It also maintains an in-patients facility with 80-bed bed capacity and attends to an average of about 200 patients daily. A big number of patients seek treatment at the institute and return to their homes after hence reducing congestion at the facility. A few non-patriotic individuals who have not even visited UCI continue to claim that there is no space and treatment at the facility. Such people do not even take time to visit the facility. However, patients appreciate the work being done at UCI.
As of now, cancer institute boasts of one very functioning Brach therapy and three external Beam radiotherapy machines. On addition to this, bankers have already been constructed and soon, additional cancer machines will be functional at the institute. This will reduce the travels that have been made by a few people to the neighbouring countries for cancer treatment.
Regional cancer institutes are also under construction in Mbale in the east, Mbarara in the west, Gulu in the north region and Arua in West Nile. These regional cancer institutes will have all the services that are being offered at Mulago and there will be no need for patients to travel to Kampala for cancer services.
Finally, with no doubt, I can authoritatively say that our Government is very committed to ensuring the access to quality radiotherapy services and cancer treatment services because of the collaborations with the various nations that have mastered the art of quality health services.
I am very sure the regional cancer institutes will sort the problem of lack of space at the main facility.