KAMPALA — In Uganda, the month of February is used to create awareness against cancer, a non-communicable disease that is causing concern among medical experts due to its rapid rise in the number of cases.
China is one of the global partners that Uganda is teaming up with to fight the disease. The east African country last year had 65,000 cancer cases registered, according to the health ministry. In 2018, Kampala Cancer Registry registered 32,617 new cancer cases and 21,829 deaths, data from the ministry showed.
Jackson Orem, executive director of state-run Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), told Xinhua in a recent interview that Yunnan Cancer Hospital in China is partnering with the institute in areas of medical training and research. Orem said the two institutions are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which would be a big step towards combating the disease in Uganda.
“We already got communication from Yunnan Cancer Hospital team through an email, where they want to cooperate with UCI in scientific research and training,” Orem said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the signing of the MOU will be done virtually, he said, adding that all the documents are ready to be signed by both parties. Orem said that Chinese oncologists in consultation with their Ugandan counterparts will share knowledge about cancer treatment, and that the Ugandan team is looking forward to working with medical experts in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.
Uganda has been receiving teams of medical specialists from China since 1983. The 21st batch arrived in the country last month for a one-year tour of duty.
Emmanuel Batiibwe, director of the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital, told Xinhua that the medical teams are crucial for promoting cooperation between the two countries’ health sectors and specialists.The UCI, which is a center for oncology in the East African region and a training site for cancer therapists, has been establishing cancer treatment centers across the country.
In addition to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and palliative care, the institute also provides cancer management through screening, risk reduction and care for newly diagnosed patients.
According to the health ministry, plans are underway to increase cancer awareness and screening services across the country.
It said current evidence shows that 30-50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by changing or avoiding key risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and obesity.