The Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda and State Minister of Health for General Duties, Hon. Sarah Opendi opened the 7th Biennial International Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care at Speke Resort, Munyonyo recently. The two-day conference held under the theme “United against Cancer: Prevention to end of Life care” was organized with focus on the spectrum of continuum of cancer care from prevention to end of life care.
The conference kick started with a health camp targeting patients with breast cancer and providing treatment. Breast Cancer is among the common cases of cancer affecting 28 per 100,000 women in Uganda.
Speaking at the opening of the seventh joint International Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care, Rt Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda noted the magnitude of Cancer in Uganda. “Cancer is a big problem affecting people regardless of their social status” He said.
“As you are aware, we have limited resources, which are shared among competing priority areas. We need to tackle Cancer together by pooling our financial, technical and infrastructural resources and using them efficiently and effectively” Hon. Rugunda said. Hon. Rugunda called upon development partners to help in the fight against cancer by providing the required financial and technical support.
This conference was also a platform to celebrate 50 years of existence of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). In her opening remarks, State Minister of Health for General Duties, Hon. Sarah Opendi underscored the efforts of Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) in providing treatment to cancer patients. The Institute, which is a regional centre of excellence, has provided care to patients from within Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, among other countries. It has also conducted some of the ground-breaking research on cancer in Africa.
“As a Ministry, we have diligently worked with Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), Hospice Africa Uganda and partners to provide Palliative Care in 90 out of 116 districts in Uganda” Hon. Opendi Noted. In his key note address, Prof. Charles Olweny, the board chair of UCI noted that cancer management at all levels is expensive, and called for focus on prevention through vaccination, screening and early detection. He urged for the enforcement of the ban on cigarette smoking saying tobacco is the only consumer product that kills 50 per cent of its users.
Dr. John Weru, a consultant palliative medicine specialist from Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, said there was need to address pain that is associated with Cancer. “Pain is recognized as an important symptom and indicator of poor quality of life” Dr. Weru informed. This conference provided a forum for stakeholders to contribute to policy debates and issues leading to better management and treatment of Cancer in Uganda and beyond.