MULAGO – The Indian government has donated a mobile mammography van to the Uganda Cancer Institute to help screen for breast and cervical cancers.
The van was handed over by the consul of the Republic of Uganda to Mumbai in India HE. Madhusudhan Agrawal at the Institute in Mulago.
Donated by Samta Foundation July 25, the Hope Express a mobile mammography unit detects the early presence of breast and cervical in women.
The Hope Express mobile van is fitted with state-of-the-art digital equipment technology and is connected with one of the top research institutes in India.
This noble effort is the first initiative for cancer patients by the Samta Foundation which has held several cataract screening and surgery camps carried out regularly in Uganda.
HE Agrawal explained that it will help in the early detection of the presence of breast and cervical cancer in women and that it’s built with the aim to boost awareness and detection, particularly in rural areas of Uganda.
“This will help save precious lives since awareness is the first step to detection and cure,” HE Agrawal.
This comes at the time Uganda had not expanded its cancer treatment beyond the Cancer Institute at Mulago and many of the patients who cannot make the journey to Mulago, their disease remains undiagnosed or gets treated when it is too late.
The mobile mammography unit will bring cervical and breast screening services closer to the rural populations of Uganda and will save lives for thousands of women.
Medical records at Mulago national referral indicate that more than 80 per cent of women diagnosed with cervical and breast cancer in Uganda present at the health facility with the cancer in its advanced stages.
HE Agrawal, along with Mr. Purushottam Agrawal, his older brother and founder of Ajanta Pharma Ltd, started the Samta Foundation, a non-governmental organisation focusing on healthcare and education to bring about a real transformation among the underprivileged people.
“The Samta Foundation’s cancer care work doesn’t stay restricted to Uganda alone; but shall be covering the neighbouring African countries as well,” added HE Agrawal.
In 2017, over 4,000 new cancer cases were registered in Uganda, with breast and cervical cancer leading in women and prostate cancer ranking high in men.
The estimated cervical cancer incidence is 47.5 cases per 100,000 women and every year an estimated 3,900 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Uganda.
Although the government set up the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination campaign in 2015 but there is low uptake.
The World Health Organisation states that globally, nearly one in six deaths are due to cancer and approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries.
The minister of state for health in charge of general duties Ms Sarah Opendi urged the UCI to put the mobile van in proper use for the benefit of the population.
“And I don’t want to see this van roaming in the streets of Kampala but guard it well and put it to proper use for us to be able to save the population through awareness and early detection,” said Ms Opendi.
It is meant improve the convenience and availability of mammography, UCI will operate the mobile mammography van that will offer screenings by appointment at various locations in the Kampala and beyond using state-of-the-art digital equipment that emits the lowest possible radiation dose, technologists obtain two-view mammograms.
Each examination will take about 20 minutes, requiring very little time from a woman’s busy schedule. Results are reported to the patient and her physician within seven to 10 days.