By Felix Oketcho
Kampala: Addressing journalists today at Uganda Media Centre, Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) Executive Director Dr Jackson Orem has revealed that cancer has doubled from the previous years as a result of the Covid pandemic.
“The country has registered an increased number of cancer patients based on the cumulative statistics indicating that 350 cancer cases per 100,000 population are recorded annually contrary from previous 2010’s 150 cases per 100,000 population,” Orem noted.
According to Oryem, this rapid increase may be a result of the fewer patients that visit UCI to see care and treatment which leaves many unaware of their status.
Meanwhile, to address the sharp increase of cases, Orem says UCI will soon build regional cancer centres in Mbale, Mbarara, Gulu and Arua to expand cancer care and treatment to most in need.
The Uganda Cancer Institute is Uganda’s only referral cancer treatment care centre that has contributed tremendously to the research and care of cancer patients worldwide since its inception in 1967.
UCI is affiliated with the Makerere University School of medicine and with the Mulago hospital complex; the teaching hospital for the medical school.
Cancer Services In Uganda
Orem stressed that cancer affects everyone in different ways and everyone has the power to take action to reduce the impact of the disease on individuals, families, and communities.
UCI believes in prevention as one of the cost-effective ways of fighting cancer. Evidence shows that 1/3 of all cancers are preventable, 1/3 can be cured and 1/3 can be treated with palliation.
Orem noted that UCI is yet to establish National Reference Laboratory for cancer with funding from the government amounting to sh 7.3billion.
The laboratory once fully functional will become the reference entity for both research and diagnosis of tumours across East Africa.
It will also cut down on expenditure by individuals who seek sophisticated tests from outside the region.
Zaitun Nalukwago Communication Officer Palliative Care Association of Uganda said although Palliative care forms a critical component in cancer care prevention, there is still a significant unmet need for palliative care and pain relief services.
According to her, currently only 11 % of those who need pain control within the wider context of palliative care access it in Uganda.
The Health Sector Development plan 2016-2020 also shows that Hospice and palliative care services are being offered in only 4.8%of the public hospitals.
Zaitun noted that government continues to pay for the manufacture of oral liquid morphine and the procurement of other essential drugs for palliative care through the national medical stores.
But on a good note, Zaitun revealed that Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery a premier public nursing institution commenced an advanced diploma in palliative care nursing adding that this will increase the number of human resources in health with palliative care knowledge.