Uganda: Ray of Hope as 8 Children Are Declared Cancer-Free

Uganda Cancer Institute has embarked on an initiative that aims at increasing access to treatment for cancer-stricken children.

This comes at a time when the Institute has partnered with different stakeholders, including Nation Media Group, to address deficits in treatment.

The Institute has also marked the cancer awareness month of September by giving eight children aged 18 and below a clean bill of health after spending five years of treatment.

The cancer survivors include Murshid Muwonge, Brian Mwonha, Austine Sebulime, Ambrose Kavuma, and Nufaisha Nansubuga. Others are Catherine Namuyimbwa, Patience Aturinda, and Viola Nalwanga.

“While treating cancer patients, we reflect on what it means to have a cancer patient in your family and we put in more effort to see that all our patients with cancer are cured,” Dr Joyce Balagadde, the head of Paediatric Oncology Services at the Institute, said.

Dr Balagadde said the Institute is profiting from having a specialist surgeon for children, which was not the case before. Surgeries in the past used to be clogged because the Institute was overly relying on the main Mulago Hospital.

“There is also Radiotherapy, which is a key in treating children with cancer and the one we have is very robust,” Dr Balagadde said, adding that the common ailments for children are cancers of kidney and heart as well as Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Dr Jackson Orem, the director of Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), urged parents “to take children for early diagnosis because cancer in children is very curable.”

He added: “The moment we receive a patient at UCI, the responsibility is with us to make sure we combine all the knowledge and medicine we have to treat them properly. [This] must be available and of good quality so that the children are treated well.”

Survivors speak out

Patience Aturinda, a survivor of Leukaemia, said she has been off the treatment for nearly five years. She said she had not felt any pain since being discharged from the hospital.

“When we were discharged, doctors advised my parents to take me for check-ups for about one year until they realise that I was okay,” she said.

Ms Justine Natooro, a mother of Ambrose Kavuma, said her son had a problem with breathing. A hospital referral ended up with the recommendation of surgery.

“I was scared but the doctor asked me to go for another check up to see if the problem is not cancerous before the surgery… I was advised to go to Mulago Cancer Institute where they told me that the boy has cancer of the lung and heart,” she said.

Kavuma was immediately put on daily treatment, which included chemotherapy. After two years, he started recovering and soon gained weight.

“I was scared, but the doctors kept on advising me on how to handle the situation. The treatment took us four years and he is now getting better,” Ms Natooro said of her son who was discharged last year.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation puts cancer survival rate in the global south at 30 percent and 80 percent in the global north.

While the survival rate in Uganda stands at 50 percent, experts believe there is work to be done.


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Author : Monitor

Publish date : 2021-10-01 13:45:38

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