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The Uganda Cancer Institute launches the UCI- Fred Hutch Cancer Research Centre

Author: Dr Emmanuel Luyirika
22 May 2015

The Uganda Cancer Institute UCI in partnership with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre Cancer Research Centre has launched a state-of-the-art UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre at Mulago, Kampala Uganda.

The facility was officially opened Thursday 21st May 2015 by President Yoweri Museveni. Speaking at the event the President expressed gratitude to the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Centre for the partnership that resulted into the new facility.

The president also thanked the US government which contributed significant resources to the construction and equipping of the facility. He was happy to see a state of the art laboratory which he likened to a defogging system within an aircraft that allows landing even when there is fog.  He pointed out that the technical cancer experts should avail him with information about the cancers that are caused by infectious agents so that they as politicians can also create awareness about how those infections are prevented.

He called for identification of the right level within the healthcare system where cancer screening should happen so that the new centre is not overwhelmed by numbers.

The President recognised that Uganda has not yet reached the recommended budgetary allocation for health and that the country still has to do more to improve terms of health workers and promised that this will be progressively achieved as the government makes holistic investment not only in health but also other infrastructure such as roads. He promised to support the centre with the 10 to 20 million US Dollars to buy the imaging equipment which he said the Uganda government can afford.

The Minister of Health in charge of general duties Dr Chris Baryomunsi mentioned that the UCI is being turned into an independent semi-autonomous entity with access to its own budget.

The Deputy Director of the IAEA Dr Kwaku Aning emphasized that palliative care must be part of the cancer response. He further said that comprehensive cancer care goes beyond chemotherapy and radiotherapy and it is a continuum of care from development of a registry to cancer awareness promotion and prevention, early detection, appropriate treatment and palliative care.

It was further mention that the UCI will acquire a new Cobalt machine as well as a Linear Accelerator for radiotherapy.

The American Ambassador Scott DeLisi called for a strong health system and the development of new models involving government and civil society. He said that cancer cannot be managed by governments alone but through a partnership between governments and the civil society and other partners. He further called for more government investment in health to save in real terms.

Before that Prof Charles Olweny gave the history of the UCI since 1964 and how he has been involved in its work since the 1960s including the time of Idi Amin when most of our cancer experts were expelled.

The team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre highlighted the four areas of the partnership with UCI which include Clinical care and research, postgraduate training, consultative oncology and multidisciplinary studies.

The facility that was opened is a multilevel building with pharmacies, paediatric clinic, adult clinic, research clinic, laboratories, a training centre, an electronic data and library facility and building maintenance subfloor.

All the speakers thanked Dr Jackson Orem the Director of the UCI for being an efficient manager who has made sure that the institute develops modern facilities, gets trained staff and for maintaining very meaningful partnerships resulting into these new developments.

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