By Peter Sebulime
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, together with Hon. Robinah Nabanja, the Minister of State for Health, on Thursday received the Bhabhatron II Cobalt Radiotherapy Machine and Advanced Digital Radiotherapy Simulator, from H.E Ravi Shakar, the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda.
The equipment which is a donation from the Government of India to Uganda, was commissioned at a highly attended event.
It will be used for Cancer treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) Mulago.
While delivering his speech as Chief Guest, minister Kutesa conveyed a message of gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Uganda for the Cancer Treatment machines.
The Minister further hailed the excellent cordial bilateral relations between India and Uganda, plus the shared values and culture of both countries, which he said are deeply rooted in history.
The Minister further recalled the official visit of the Prime Minister of India His Excellency Narendra Modi, who paid a historic visit to Uganda in July 2018.
He said “This visit cemented further the relations between the two countries in many areas including health.”
During this visit the Prime Minister announced the donation of the Bhabhatron II Cobalt Radiotherapy Machine Cancer treatment machines.
Hon. Kutesa noted that these machines will greatly improve the capacity of the Uganda Cancer Institute in handling cases of cancer, alleviating the suffering of cancer patients, and allow them better access to treatment.
The Minister further emphasized that Uganda Cancer Institute is now a Center of Excellence of oncology in the whole of the East Africa region.
“Uganda is proud to host this center and the addition of this machine will go a long way in supporting its important work in the fight against Cancer,” he noted.
The Minister further acknowledged the work of Professor Charles Olweny, the Board Chairman Uganda Cancer Institute, for his contribution to the cancer fight as a researcher, oncologist and administrator.
He also acknowledged the need for additional support to the Uganda Cancer Institute, reaffirmed his support, and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue working with development partners to mobilize more support in this important and critical area.
Nabanja, the Minister of State for Health, also thanked the Government of India for the donation of these Radiotherapy Machine and Advanced Digital Radiotherapy Simulator, which she said is a significant boost for Cancer treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute in Mulago.
She also hailed Hon. Kutesa and the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the tireless efforts made in mobilization and delivery of this much required facility.
Hon. Nabanja commended the Government of India for setting up a tele–medical Centre at Mulago Hospital complex.
This center is connected to 11 reputed Indian hospitals and ensures quality medical consultation and treatment of patients, and provides training for Makerere University medical students.
The Minister recalled that as early as 2016, the sole functioning radiotherapy machine in Uganda broke down, leaving 40 million people m without access to this life-saving treatment.
Following a request from the government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provided expert services, staff training and procurement of equipment through its technical cooperation programme, leading to the procurement and installation of a new cobalt-60 machine and the reestablishment of radiotherapy services in the country.
She revealed that Government is committed to ensuring access to quality radiotherapy services and cancer treatment services with collaborations from various entities and states through Improving Access to Radiotherapy, Increasing Human Resources for cancer control and Improving Access to Cancer Medicines and Supplies.
She noted that government has also supported the Uganda Cancer Institute to improve efficiency in procurement of cancer medicines and supplies.
Hon. Nabanja also commended the staff of the Uganda Cancer Institute headed by Dr. Orem Jackson for using the minimal resources available to provide high quality cancer care as a Center of Excellency in Oncology in the East African region.
H.E Ravi Shakar noted with appreciation the reception of the Cancer treatment machines by the government of Uganda and emphasized that this gesture is a gift of friendship by the Indian government to assist in cancer treatment.
He further reiterated that India has not only become a preferred destination for quality health care for Ugandans, but several Indian hospitals and business entities are exploring opportunities of setting up specialist hospitals in Uganda.
“I wish to encourage more Indian Investors to invest in the health sector, where opportunities still abound.”
Also in attendance were Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), Members of Parliament, the Chairperson and Board UCI, Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Officials from the Ministry of Health, Officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral development, plus officials from the Media Centre and the general public.