Govt explains why Oulanyah didn’t get treatment in Seattle 

Archbishop of Church of Uganda Stephen  Kaziimba Mugalu (left) prays for the children of Speaker Jacob Oulanyah during a service to mark the deceased’s 57th birthday at his home in Muyenga, Kampala, on March 23, 2022. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Government says the Speaker’s bone marrow had been so suppressed that it couldn’t be activated to produce cells for attacking cancer.

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah did not get the actual treatment because his bone marrow, which doctors were targeting to heal, was already severely damaged, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, has said. 

“He was referred to Seattle [in America] because some of the modern technologies to manage cancer are found there.  There is a new technology called Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell therapy (CAR-T), where you harvest bone marrow cells and you use genetic modification to change them,  they then develop those receptors, and they are infused again in the patient to attack the cancer cells,” Dr Baryomunsi told mourners during the vigil at the late Oulanyah’s residence in Muyenga, Kampala,  on Wednesday.

He added: “But the challenge with Jacob’s condition was that the bone marrow had been so suppressed that it couldn’t be activated to produce those cells [for attacking cancer]. So by the time he died , the real treatment that he was supposed to receive had not been given.”  Dr Baryomunsi was adding clarity to the previous report by the Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, that the deceased was taken to one of the best hospitals in the world but died before getting the real treatment.
“The treatment or the technology that we wanted is available in three hospitals in the world. One in Germany, another in France, but the technology started in Seattle. By the time we sent him there, he was quite ill,” Dr Aceng said.
She said upon Oulanyah reaching the hospital, it took the doctors some time to stabilise him because of his serious illness.

“[But] they [doctors] didn’t succeed, he passed on before he got the actual treatment. All this time they were trying to stabilise him,” she said.
The Speaker was taken out of the country for treatment on February 4, with reports claiming that the Uganda Airlines Bus A330-800 neo was used to fly him to Seattle. 
 President Museveni announced his death on Sunday,  and his body is expected soon, according to a government official.