Gulu – Thousands of critically ill cancer patients who each month are referred from Lacor and Gulu hospitals to the Uganda Cancer Institute in Mulago could soon be spared the punishing trip.
This comes as plans to construct a multibillion cancer treatment centre in Gulu City take shape.
The journey to construct Northern Uganda Cancer Centre began in 2017 after the board of directors of Uganda Cancer Institute wrote to the Koro Sub-county administration requesting land. For more than six years, there was political ping-pong about the location of the regional cancer facility.
However, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, on Friday, officially launched the construction of the facility on a four-acre piece of land at Koro Cell, Gulu East Division in Gulu City. The construction of the Shs34.5 billion facility is being supported by funding from the Austrian government
AME International Construction Company Limited has been tasked to erect the brick and mortar in one year. Once functional, the facility will serve the regions of Acholi, Lango, and Karamoja as well as South Sudan.
“This is a timely project amidst the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases like cancer, which has become a big burden and is one of the leading causes of death in the region,” Mr Douglas Peter Okello, the Omoro District chairperson said. Reports from the Uganda Cancer Institute put the disease’s survival rate at 20 per cent.
Dr Jackson Orem, the executive director of the institute, says that cancers that attack the cervix, liver and uterus are the most prevalent. “Cancer has become the most deadly disease the country is grappling with. Uganda registers over 1,000 new cases annually,” Dr Orem said.
The government is also looking to erect cancer treatment centres in Mbale (Eastern Region), Mbarara (Western Region), Nsambya (Central Region) and Arua (West Nile Region). “Ensuring the health of Ugandans remains at the top of our priority, we remain committed to promoting health services in the country by establishing regional cancer centres,” Ms Nabbanja, the premier, revealed.
She tasked the contractor to ensure timely completion of the work and warned against shoddy works.
“We want the centre to be constructed with quality materials because a lot of money has been sunk here,” she warned.