Dr. Nixon Niyonzima, the head of research and training at the Uganda Cancer Institute, announced the commencement of construction of a nuclear medicine facility to address the rising cases of cervical and prostate cancer.
The multi purpose facility will aim at offering comprehensive treatment and eliminating the need for patients to seek diagnostic tests abroad.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) latest estimates of the global burden of cancer, there were an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths in 2022. The estimated number of people who were alive within 5years following a cancer diagnosis was 53.5million.
Furthermore, about 1 in 5 people develop cancer in their lifetime, approximately 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women die from the disease.
Dr. Nixon further emphasized the institute’s commitment to expanding diagnostic capabilities, including acquiring new equipment such as MRI machines and increasing bed capacity to accommodate all patients.
Speaking at the Uganda Media Center during the country’s observance of World Cancer Month on Monday, Dr. Nixon underscored the importance of raising awareness and enhancing cancer care services.
Since 2000, when the World Cancer Day was established at the World Cancer Summit Against Cancer in Paris, the world has since commemorated this day mainly to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.
“In addition to the new facility, we are also working on equipment, our diagnostic capacity has expanded, currently we have a total of 8 radiotherapy machines, we acquired an MRI and also in the process of expanding the bed capacity to 353 in that we cater for every patient who comes at the facility,” Dr. Nixon asserted.
With Uganda reporting an estimated 34,005 new cancer cases annually, of which only a fraction receive care at the institute, there’s a pressing need to bridge the care gap. Dr. Alfred Jatho, head of comprehensive community cancer services, outlined initiatives focused on prevention and detection, including training village health teams (VHT) nationwide.
The commemoration, led by the Uganda Cancer Institute in collaboration with civil society organizations, aims to promote prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer in Uganda.
Acknowledging the government’s role in providing care and treatment, Dennis Olodi, Director of the Uganda Cancer Society, pledged ongoing support by the civil society to address gaps in cancer care.
Dr. Jackson Orem, ED of Uganda Cancer Institute, highlighted the need for regional cancer centers in Mbarara, Arua, and Mbale to alleviate the burden on the Kampala facility. However, funding remains a challenge, with each center requiring approximately $20 million USD.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organization, lamented the alarming cancer statistics on the continent, emphasizing the need for urgent action to combat breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and liver cancers, which account for half of all new cases in adults.
The theme for this year is “Close the Care Gap” compels stakeholders to do more to expand care and treatment as well as join hands to strengthen ongoing interventions, among others.