The worrying level of deaths arising from Cancer in Uganda may soon come down if the government executes its plan to build four new cancer centres in the country.
The Director of the Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Ministry of Health Dr. Gerald Mutungi says the government plans to borrow money from development partners in addition to tax payers’ money to build the four cancer centres. Mutungi says the total budget for the expansion project is US$50m (Approx. Ushs175bn). Mbarara and Arua will be prioritised in this programme while, Mbale and Gulu will follow suit.
He was speaking at a news conference to announce activities for this year’s cancer week as well as programmes for expanding treatment to other parts of the country in coming months.
Cancer experts say that majority of the cancer patients in the country seek treatment when its too late yet majority of cancer patients live in rural areas.
Late diagnosis of cancer is cited as one of the biggest factors responsible for Uganda’s very low survival rates. The Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute Dr. Jackson Orem says that just 20% of cancer patients survive the disease in Uganda.
As part of activities to commemorate February as a cancer awareness month, I can. Get involved in cancer prevention and control,” National events are scheduled to take place on February 4, 2016 at Kiyeye Health Center III Nabuyoga Sub county, Tororo district.
“We expect this (move) to ease the burden of caring for cancer patients that is currently being shouldered by Mulago with increasing numbers of cancer patients by each passing day.
Orem said adding that the move was long over due since the center’s burden is extended by patients from other countries in the region including “Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritria, South Sudan and the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC)
According to Dr. Mutungi, Uganda registers 4000 new cancer cases every year with a low survival rate of 20%, which he said must be increased to 50% as the ministry scales up campaigns in public awareness, early diagnosis and treatment of caner within the next few years.
The common cancers in Uganda include: cancer of the cervix which affects 48 per every 100,000 women Cancer of the prostate affects 45 persons for very 100,000 men, Kaposi’s sarcoma (skin cancer) affects 35 per 100,000. Cancer of the breast affecting 28 per 100,000 mainly women, Cancer of the throat affecting 25 per 100, 000, Liver cancer affecting 15 per 100,000 and cancer of the stomach affecting 12 per100, 000
Calling for more vigorous efforts to combat cancer, Mutungi pointed out that cancer ranks number one among the non communicable diseases (NCDs) in Uganda and has become the leading killer diseases globally.
According to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) NCDs are responsible for 63% of deaths occurring in low and middle income countries including Uganda.