Following the rise of cancer burden in the country, the Uganda Cancer Institute has commissioned a second cancer machine at the institute, a step the Executive Director Dr. Jackson Orem, believes will relieve the institute’s treatment burden.
The minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kuteesa and the Minister of Health for General Duties, Robinah Nabbanja, officiated the launch of the radiotherapy machine in the presence of the Indian High Commissioner.
According to referral guidelines for suspected cancer from UCI as per Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the disease was on the rise and the cause of the trend is multifactorial, ranging from environmental agents, lifestyle, infections, and the HIV epidemic.
There are more than 60,000 cases of cancer per year in Uganda, of which 25,000 are incident cases.
It was, therefore, worth the thought of acquiring a new cancer machine that has been officially commissioned at the Uganda Cancer Institute. The machine will enable the institution to receive up to 30,000 cancer patients annually and run with two cobalt 60 radiotherapy machines.
Costing a million dollars, the machine is a donation from the government of India and is expected to revamp radiation treatment at the institute reducing pressure on the existing one that has been serving up to 80 patients a day.
“The gift was a promise by India Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi when he visited Uganda in 2018.” Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kuteesa said while at the launch.
“It further seals the relations the country has with India in terms of healthcare cooperation which also involves the training of medical workers” Sam Kuteesa added.
According to India’s High Commissioner Ravi Shankar, the people of India gave this gift of life to Ugandans considering that globally even in countries that have advanced in technology in terms of cancer care, a lot of people are still dying of cancer.
Everest Katungwensi, a Senior Radiation Therapist at the institute, said the machine will be working on about 40 patients per day and that up to 60 percent of people seeking treatment for cancer will need radiotherapy as one of the treatment interventions.
“The machine has a wireless hand pendant that enables the performance of patient set up, record, verification, and treatment delivery with fast and highly efficient workflow and that it can be tilted to all directions depending on which type of cancer they are focusing on” Everest Katungwensi added.
The Uganda Cancer Institute previously suffered a crisis when the only machine available shut down beyond repair in 2016, therefore having at least two machines is not only for security but reliability as well.
It is also worth informing all cancer patients that the government of Uganda, alongside the cancer institute itself has promised that the current treatment fees are to be maintained even with the new machine coming in.
The new machine is similar to the already existing cobalt machine only different in terms of make since the other one is Canadian made.
Written by Erica Nsunjo