Dr Guma hailed for saving children with cancer

What you need to know:

  • Ms Rose Rwakasisi, the mother of the late, said her son had aggressive cancer that later made him also seek care from other places like India.

The Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) has eulogised the late Dr Samuel Guma, who has been the executive director of Kawempe Home Care (KHC), for playing a remarkable role in improving the cancer survival rate among children.

Dr Guma, succumbed to colon cancer on Friday, according to the association. Besides serving previously as the president and Chairperson of the Board of PCAU, Guma, along with his friends, also founded KHC.

The Kawempe-based facility provides accommodation and other essential support to children and other patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. Some cancer patients, especially those from upcountry, abandon care at Kampala-based Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) because they cannot afford accommodation and other basic needs in the city as they undergo treatment that takes months or even years to complete.

Dr Henry Ddungu, a cancer specialist at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) who’s also the current PCAU Board Chairperson, said on Monday that the burial would take place on Tuesday in Igorora, Ibanda District.

Dr Ddungu also told mourners at the funeral service at All Saints Cathedral Nakasero, that, “It was such a sad moment that day when Sam first broke the news about the [cancer] diagnosis to me."

“But the good thing we had a plan –there was a team of surgeons. They did a tremendous job, a difficult surgery that we used all the technology but this couldn’t save Dr Guma,” he added. 

Ms Rose Rwakasisi, the mother of the late, said her son had aggressive cancer that later made him also seek care from other places like India.

“I am very proud of my son after hearing very good testimonies about him. He told me he had a very aggressive cancer and he also told me what they told him when he went to India [for care over the same],” she said.

His wife, Engineer Gloria Kibera Guma, on the other hand, said: “Having a cancer patient, a doctor, as a husband, is not easy. More to say, a doctor, who is into palliative care, here he is now as a cancer patient and needing palliative care. That was a real test for me. I want to thank God for giving us the wisdom, knowledge, courage and strength to accord some the kind of care he advocated for all those going through this terrible situation. I thank everyone who supported him because this is what he deserved,” she said.

Dr Guma’s contributions

According to the PCAU, one of his areas of focus was improving the cancer survival rate among children. The cancer survival rate among children admitted at the UCI is above 50 percent according to officials, a figure which is higher than the 30 percent average survival rate for adults. The KHC also takes care of some children who are abandoned by their caretakers at UCI because of prolonged treatment duration. 

Dr Ddungu said Guma was passionate about palliative care –the care that is given to people with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses to manage pain and improve their general well-being.  

“He was so strong and emphasised the need to mobilise resources. Cancer care is very expensive, even if you are rich. He emphasised the need to have resources to support people when they no longer have. Because of his passion for care, together with his friends, they founded Kawempe Home Care to help people,” Dr Ddung told mourners. 

“This was at a time when we had a lot of suffering among people of low socio-economic status. This was established to take care of people who were accessing care [at UCI or Mulago]. He even used his personal car to do this work. He has prematurely gone. There is no way we can stop God from implementing what he has planned,” he added. 

Dr Anne Merriman, the founder of Hospice Africa Uganda, said: “A special special kind and gifted saint for palliative care. He has given so much with a special strength. May God bless his wonderful family and comfort them at this special time."

Ms Rose Kiwanuka, one of the pioneers of palliative care in Uganda, said: "May your soul rest in internal Peace Dr. Guma. We thank God for all you have done for the sick and the needy. God is waiting to reward you for the good work done."