The Uganda Cancer institute has partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre based in Washington and a number of benefits are expected from the collaboration.
Research on infection-related cancers, responsible for 50% cancer deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa, will be carried out here and it is hoped that there will be a reduction in deaths and improvement in treatment methods.
Lawrence Corey, president and director of the Hutchinson centre says they hope to “increase survival rates for common infection-caused cancers from 10% to 90% over the next three years”.
Dr Omoding says with this research, they hope to discover cheaper and simpler treatment modalities. “Most of the cancer treatment drugs on the market are manufactured in the West and they are expensive here. We hope to come up with a cheaper single tablet”.
If medicine is available, the number of admitted patients will be reduced. To curb the space problems further, government is constructing a six-storey building with a radiology unit (it will contain an ultra scan machine and CT scan), a radiotherapy facility, theatre for operations on certain cancers, separate wards for men, women and children, administration unit, cafeteria and a mortuary.
On October 4, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre and the Uganda Cancer institute broke ground for a new state-of-the-art cancer training and outpatient treatment facility in Kampala.
The facility, funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID), American Schools and Hospitals Abroad and the Hutchinson centre, will be three storeys high and will have adult and paediatric cancer care clinics, examination rooms, procedure suites, pharmacies and an infusion suite. “Men, women and children will finally have a decent place to sleep in,” Omoding says.
This state-of-the-art centre will also be equipped with cancer histopathology, clinical chemistry and haematology, immunology and molecular diagnostics laboratories, boosting access to diagnostic technologies.
With help from the Hutchinson Centre, a grant from the Burkitt’s Lyphoma Fund for Africa has been offered to the Uganda Cancer institute.
“Burkitts Lyphoma is curable but survival rates are low because of malnutrition in our children,” Omoding says.
To illustrate the importance of feeding children faced with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, I meet a small boy with his equally small sick brother carrying a sack of food at the cancer institute. They are parentless children from Masaka and they carried food this time because they remember the hunger pangs they felt the last time they were at the institute.
“Cases like theirs are all too common,” Omoding says. But with plans to provide food, there is light at the end of the tunnel.