Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) plans to introduce Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in cancer treatment in Uganda.   

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that can help reveal the metabolic or biochemical function of your tissues and organs. Uganda will be the only country in East Africa in terms of screening for cancerous cells and tissue.      

In preparation for bunkers to house the equipment, the Uganda Cancer Institute announced plans to construct a new water tank for Mulago National Referral Hospital.     

The Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Jackson Orems told journalists on Thursday that it was decided that the cancer facility should not be closer to the water tanks.   Orem said they have resolved to set up a 1.5 million liters water facility at a different location to replace Mulago’s 500,000 liters water tanks.   

The construction of radiotherapy /radiology-related facilities has to adhere to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA has in the past overseen the construction of the new bunkers at Mulago.     

Dr. Orem said the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) center is being constructed with funds from the government of Uganda amounting to $ 120 million. 

The preparation for the project started in 2022. It should be completed within the next four years.

Dr. Orem explained the new scanning technology is more specific in identifying cancers and will help save them the guesswork.

An estimated 33,000 Ugandans are diagnosed with various types of cancer annually and 7400 are enrolled in care. 

Dr. Orem says they will be more accurate with these numbers once they start using PET.       

Orem says once complete, providing care using PET will cut down on the number of individuals to seek cancer services abroad since many go looking for timely, accurate diagnosis and treatment.  

Meanwhile, PET is used not only in cancer care but also in the diagnosis of some heart and brain conditions.   It helps visualize the biochemical changes in the body. Orem explains that the plan is to have ten percent of the services at the center dedicated to other ailments.

A similar center exists only in South Africa on the continent. 

According to Clare Ruhweza, an Architect at South Gate Consulting, the seven-story facility will have a tank house, an ecological park in addition to a molecular, Imaging, and therapy unit that will have a research center for both humans and animals.

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