Last week in one of our class Whatsapp groups, my eyes were drawn to a photo of a girl lying distraught on her bed (her current state) distraught along with another photo of the same student smiling happily (to indicate a more glorious time).
The girl in the photo (Viola) happens to be a student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) who was recently diagnosed with Cancer and she needs money for her treatment so I will use this opportunity to solicit for such help by requesting anyone with the ability to offer not only financial but also moral support to do so by contacting this number (+256703036488).
I wish I could infer that Viola is a rare case of a cancer patient seeking monetary aid from the public to treat cancer but the whole country would label me a liar owing to the fact that cancer is on the rise in Uganda and even before Viola, we’ve had other cancer treatment campaigns to try to save Cancer patients like former NTV Uganda news anchor Rosemary Nankabirwa and Carol Atuhirwe- another student who needed Shs 100m and shs 270 million respectively for their treatment.
Now back to my concern as I write this afternoon, Uganda happens to be a country where at least 60,000 cancer cases are registered annually according to the Fred Hutchinson cancer research centre at Mulago
It appears to be a small number considering, we are a country of more than 38 million people – which perhaps is the reason it’s not given much attention by the authorities but It gets even worse when you realize that more than 500,000 people happen to be living with cancer unknowingly.
The result is that we end up having 560,000 people at risk of losing their lives owing to the fact that their cancer is not diagnosed on time due to the fact that less than 3 hospitals have Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan machines that cost shs 7.2bn ($2m) and shs 36bn ($10m) respectively and at the same time our country’s only external beam radiotherapy machine that could have been used to treat the disease broke down in March last year, it’s therefore not difficult to see why Cancer has become hard to cure.
The fact that we barely have enough MRI and PET scan equipment complicates issues further owing to the fact that if you can’t diagnose the disease then treating it obviously becomes difficult, almost impossible.
An alternative means to overcome the disease is presented outside Uganda by countries like India that have benefited economically from our lack of appropriate cancer diagnosing and treatment equipment.
But unfortunately it comes with a condition.
You either have to be financially stable or reside around the central region where a couple of patriotic individuals might just create a campaign to raise the required money mostly by fundraising through a twitter hash tag or “cash washes” among others.
For this, am eternally grateful that at the time of crisis, as a country we are able to come to each other’s aid, but what about that old lady in a rural area who can’t afford not only publicity but also a hash tag.
Her fate is sealed right from the very day she gets sick and it’s particularly disheartening that majority of cancer patients can’t even afford cancer treatment for treatable cancer here at home in Mulago Hospital.
The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has obviously played a key role, but it would be much to ask for more effort in curbing cancer and produce more success stories like that of those 5 children who were declared cancer free after treatment at the Institute.
The arrival of a new external beam radiotherapy machine later in June this year will definitely be a key boost in the race to treat cancer but to register heavy gains it would require for cancer alleviation to be more inclusive.
People in rural areas should be given as much priority as is given to those who reside in town; more permanent solutions need to be instituted to register minimize cancer related deaths and reduce on cancer mortality rate.
To successfully achieve this, we need to set our priorities straight..
A testimonials menu section on India based medical service provider, Safe medtrip lists Uganda as one of the key beneficiaries from the clinical skills and facilities offered by Indian medical service providers whose experience, facilities and clinical skills have saved thousands of cancer patients, with adequate investment in the cancer alleviation scheme.
I reckon we could reduce on cancer related deaths if we set up facilities which would reduce on cost of treatment for cancer patients, make early diagnoses possible by procuring the relevant equipment.
It’s a long shot but budgetary investment in cancer alleviation would gradually produce results.