Uganda establishes National Cancer Control Plan to boost cancer care

UGANDA – The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has concluded development of the National Cancer Control Plan to help in the fight against cancer burden in the country.

UCI is a public medical care facility in partnership with the Ministry of Health that offers super specialized services in areas of cancer treatment, research, prevention, training and consultation.

The theme for this year’s World Cancer Day is “closing the care gap” and the control plan aims to bring quality cancer care in Uganda.

It will also help raise awareness of cancer as well as encourage its prevention, detection and treatment among Ugandans.

In Uganda, annually there are between 33,000 to 34,000 new cases every year but only 7,400 of these make it to the UCI.

The cancer burden in Uganda increases annually with the common cancers being cervical cancer in women, breast cancer in both men and women and prostate cancer in men.

Cancer is a non-communicable disease that results when normal cells change and grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way.

In many types of cancer like breast cancer, the uncontrolled growth of cells causes swelling called a tumor but in other types of cancer like blood cancer, the uncontrolled growth of cells results in an abnormal number of cells that cannot perform their normal functions.

It can be a result of early sex exposure, unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, exposure to radiation to name a few causes.

Nonetheless, the World Health Organization estimates that between 30–50% of all cancers are avoidable by preventing or reducing exposure to cancer risk factors.

The incidence of cancer is on the rise due to a combination of factors such as changing life style, dietary habits, lack of physical activity and increasing life expectancy.

We lost 22,000 people who were 70% of our patients which explains our need to closing the care gap,” the Head of Cancer Prevention at UCI, Dr. Noleb Mugisha said.

On World Cancer Day, Dr. Noleb addressed journalists on the barriers to cancer care, closing the cancer care gap and national cancer control plan at the Uganda Media Centre in Nakasero, Kampala.

UCI has received funding from the government to purchase two new radiotherapy machines,” asserted Dr. Nixon Niyonzima, the Head of Research and Training Directorate at UCI.

Dr. Nixon further noted that the institute expected these machines by June this year.

We shall be having five functional radiotherapy machines to ably work on our patient and we are already setting up the structures for the two machines,” he added.

The institute has also received funding from government to start bone marrow transplant treatment which will address the issues of Ugandan patients leaving the country to get care that can be provided at the institute.

Additionally, the funding will help broaden cancer treatment at the institute.

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