8 January 2013

Uganda: Cancer Unit Set for Renovation

Plans are underway to demolish the Lymphoma Treatment Centre at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and replace it with a modern facility.

The prospected facility, whose construction is expected to begin March, is expected to step up the quality of care given to cancer patients.

"The new centre is expected to accommodate 100 patients, an improvement from the current 45 and will also house a research centre," Christine Namulindwa, the institute's publicist, says.

This development follows an announcement early last year by the Burkett's Lymphoma Fund for Africa (BLFA) based in Seattle, Washington and Direct Relief International (DRI) that the collaboration between the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and UCI was selected to receive grant funds and medicine.

A grant of $128,000 (about Shs 320m) was given to the collaboration to cover a variety of costs for patient care and treatment. The funds will aid in the treatment of 300 Ugandan children affected with Burkett's lymphoma for two years at the institute.

The fund, which was established two years ago, has a mission to save lives of African children afflicted with the lymphoma by improving diagnosis and treatment. It seeks to ensure the availability of medical care, overcome the social and economic barriers to completing treatment and improve capacity of the medical infrastructure to diagnose and care for patients.

The centre is currently handling adults and children with cancers like leukaemia and receives between 150 and 160 children annually. With the new facility, it is hoped that the five-year survival rate which is less than 40% will be improved. Meanwhile, a modern facility for relocating the institute has been erected behind Old Mulago.

"The facility, which will house a theatre, wards, nuclear medicine and a research centre, is set to be opened this year," Namulindwa says.

UCI has also established a new cancer institute, the first of its kind, in Mayuge district to handle the high numbers of cancer patients in the eastern region.

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