Dr. Orem Jackson, Uganda Cancer Institute, director, says the institute needs a Shs250bn one-off investment “if everything is to work optimally”.
He was commenting on the breakdown of Mulago cancer institute radiotherapy machine on Monday at NBS television.
He said the machine was procured three years ago but it has not yet arrived because the country doesnt have a bunker.
“The process of selecting a contractor to build the bunker for the new machine is in its final stage.”
“We are not putting in place one bunker. We want a 7-bunker complex with 4 machines. This will cost Shs31bn,” Dr Orem explained.
Dr Orem said the breakdown of the country’s sole radiotherapy machine was an “unexpected accident, a glitch”.
“We are the only country in the region with a separate budget for cancer (UGX40bn per year).”
He revealed that its only in Ugandan where cancer treatment is cheapest.
“The Kenyan machine you saw on social media is in a private hospital.”
The Uganda Cancer Institute is going to be a center of excellence for the treatment of cancer and training.
Dr Orem says only 20% of patients have been affected by the breakdown: “We haven’t been brought to a complete stop.”
“Most patients come when it’s too late and all we can provide is palliative care. For every 100 patients, 80 end up dying.”
He said the palliative care is important but the reasons why people come in late are what they should focus on more.
“We are a model in the world in as far as the use of morphine is concerned. We don’t have a big problem but a big challenge.”
Orem said Mbarara, Arua, Mbale and Gulu cancer centers should be financed to decongest Mulago.
When asked about the immediate alternative in the wake of the breakdown of Uganda’s sole radiotherapy machine, Dr. Orem said: “Nothing.”