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Cancer Institute asks for budget increment as patient numbers rise

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The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has called for an increase in its budget allocation to manage patients who it said are on the rise.

Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director at UCI hosted Parliament’s Committee on Health, and said much as progress is being made, there are structural issues relating to staffing and medication whose costs are shooting to the roof.

“‘One of the areas that we feel requires attention is the area of drugs and the most expensive ones come in form of donations; the area number two is that of our human resource and we have submitted our new structure to the Ministry of Public Service for approval,” said Dr Orem.

The institute has installed the latest equipment for radiotherapy, and constructed a bunker to house it, but Orem fears power outages will reset the systems.

He asked MPs to root for a direct power line for the banker, and also require the Kampala Capital City Authority to tarmac the road behind the bunker, which is dusty and spoiling the machines.

Mr George Osinde, who heads the pharmacy at UCI said the donations in terms of drugs are worth shs34 billion.

He said some drugs are very expensive and with an increase in the number of patients, there is need to ensure a budget increment to avoid emergencies arising from shortages.

Dr Victoria Walusansa, who deputises for Dr Orem said the biggest challenge facing the institute is the unscrupulous traditional herbalists, who she says confuse patients with false drugs and even lure them out of hospital with false promises of treatment.

This, she said, continues to contribute to several cancer fatalities in the country.

“There are herbalists that come and take our patients from here and go and give them herbs; every month they pay shs1 million and by the time they come here, they are poor and ailing,” she said.

MP Sylvia Nayebare (NRM, Gomba District) said the institute’s quest to have hostels for unadmitted patients seeking diagnosis should be expeditiously handled.

Many patients traveling long distances to access medical care find themselves stuck in the vicinities of the institute, most times sleeping under a shade purposed to serve as a waiting area.

“I pray that parliament supports you and you put a hostel for caretakers because seeing patients and caretakers suffer under verandas is unsightly; you should also find a way of improving upon the brain drain that is happening so that you retain the best specialists to treat our people,” she said.

Committee Chairperson, Hon Michael Bukenya said he will make efforts to ensure the funding gaps of the institution is taken care of.

Bukenya said the institute should engage in a robust public awareness campaign about the various forms of cancers and also the services available at the institute.

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