ARUA. The Director of Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), Dr Jackson Oryem has revealed that the majority of cancer patients at UCI come from the West Nile region.
“The majority of the patients that we see at UCI in Kampala come from West Nile and Northern Uganda,” Oryem said during a joint national commemoration of world cancer and world childhood cancer day in Arua town over the weekend.
He said because of distance to Kampala, many cancer patients cannot go to UCI due to logistical challenges, a factor that leaves many to die of the disease.
Oryem noted that there is an urgent need to establish a regional cancer center in Arua, an initiative the ministry of health is responding positively to.
There has, however, been a challenge with the acquisition of land for establishing the center though Arua regional referral hospital (ARRH) has in the meantime, provided some space for the unit to operate waiting for land from the district to construct a fully-fledged regional cancer center.
“I really need the support of the leadership in Arua district,” Oryem appealed.
“A third of cancer cases are preventable, curable and can be palliated. There is a need to emphasize that ‘prevention is better than cure` slogan among the people,” he said.
In 1964, research undertaken in Arua showed that childhood cancer called Backish Lymphoma can be caused by an infection brought about by ‘Expember virus’, a virus which was first confirmed in Arua.
Oryem said Arua continues to be important in the fight against cancer basing on its cancer history.
Arua municipality Member of Parliament, Mr Kasiano Wadri Ezati pledged the support of West Nile MPs to have the regional cancer center in Arua.
Wadri blamed the local governments in West Nile for not implementing laws that ban the consumption of alcohol and public smoking that continue to be the biggest cause of cancer among the people.
The state minister for primary health care, Dr Joyce Moriku who represented the Speaker of Parliament said decentralization of cancer centers at regional levels is in response to President Museveni’s directive of ensuring that cancer treatment services are brought nearer to the people.
Arua, Mbale, Mbarara and Gulu districts will have the pilot centers after which other centers will be considered.
Moriku said cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Uganda, making the country among countries with the highest cancer incidences in the world.
She said out of every 100 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Uganda, 80 of them die mainly because of late reporting to health facilities.
The most common cases of cancer in Uganda are cervical and breast cancers, prostate cancer, Kaposi Sarcoma, the cancer of the throat, Lymphoma and Leukemia among children.