Government through the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uganda, Uganda Cancer Institute, Makerere University school of Health Sciences and Mulago National Referral Hospital launched the new integrated fellowship program to fight cancerous cases especially in women under the theme “Unity Against Gynacological Cancers.”
The fellowship dubbed "Gynecological Oncology Fellowship program" is aimed at training specialized various experts with techniques, diagnosizing, treating and management procedures, such as surgery on reproductive organs, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Speaking during the launch held at Protea Hotel in Kampala, the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, who was represented by the Director General of health services at the Ministry of Health, Prof Dr Anthony Mbonye. He said that a Memorandum of Understanding between the member state actors in achieving the program was signed, where various support is to be endowed in training capacity building and health professional training in Uganda shall be held to help in cancerous challenges among women.
According to recent research, cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in Uganda among women, with statistics showing that over 3,915 Ugandan women are diagnosed with the disease every year, but about 2,160 end up dying annually.
According to the program more emphasis shall be placed on cervical cancer, however Uganda Cancer Institute figures show that an alarming burden is also more in ovarian cancer in the Ugandan population yet this was predominantly in high income countries.
Prof Dr Mbonye said that the program shall also improve health systems in cancer treatment, infrastructure enhancement, establishment of a national gynecological disease registry and fostering multi displinary across sector among others. He however raised a concern of the limited funding in the sector pleading to the experts to accept working under a tireless condition but to save the lives of Ugandans.
Prof. Dr Mbonye
Meanwhile Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of the Uganda National refferral Cancer Institute - Mulago, said that the Program has been allocated about 34 million dollars grant from the African Development Bank to run the required activities.He also noted that the program is to start by training 4 technocrats who some of them were initially trained abroad but now are being trained locally.
At this launch Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, the principal medical officer for Mental Health and Control of Substance Abuse at the ministry of Health, had her uterus removed after cancerous cells were detected in it. She was not in any sort of pain when she decided to check up. She thought that because she is a Born Again Christian, God loves her so much and guided her to see a cancer specialist who detected cancer cells in her body at the first stage. When cancer is detected at stage two or three, it is often too late and in many cases the patient will die. Dr Ndyanabangi testified her story at the Gynecological Oncology launch where a fellowship program in gynecological Oncology was launched aiming at producing Gynecological oncologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in female reproductive organs at Protea Hotel in Kampala.
Dr Ndyanabangi raised serious issues regarding cancer screening and treatment. “The way to go is to strengthen the methods of screening (for cancer),” she said. “The routine screening methods and specialists which we have been using to screen for cancer of the cervix, cancer of the uterine, cancer of the Vargina and cancer of the ovary are not enough. She advised that the best way to catch the cancer early is by screening by Professional Specialists in Gynecological cancer.
To do the screening which detected her stage one cancer, Dr Ndyanabangi visited a specialist who advised her to do a screening. She raised a concern that Gynecological cancers are complex and treatment often involves multiple modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She also added that a gynecological oncologist is needed specifically to diagnose and treat these types of cancers, as well as premalignant conditions that lead to gynecological cancer. “This program has come at a time where the country needs to have specialists, we pledge our support to the Fellowship” said Dr. Ndyanabangi. After Dr Ndyanabangi’s uterus was removed, she now has to ensure that there are no more cancerous cells remaining in her body.
The event was crowned by a Launch of the Program’s Tab on the Uganda Cancer Institute Website where information about the Fellowship and application forms can be got.