The government of Uganda, through the ministry of health has pledged to track the new mobile cancer screening van donated to the Uganda Cancer Institute by the Honorary Consul of Uganda in Mumbai Madhusudan Agrawal, the Samta Foundation and Tata Group.
Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for Health told a gathering at UCI Mulago on Wednesday, that the van will be monitored to ensure that it goes out to rural areas to offer free screening to women in rural Uganda.
The new mobile van which has a mammography unit that will be used to screen for breast cancer will also be used for cervical cancer screening.
The donation of this unit “Hope Express” took place on Wednesday, as part of the activities to mark the two-day visit of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. He has since left for South Africa.
It comprises of three inbuilt compartments that host UCI staff, the mammogram machine and an area for screening both breast and cervical cancer, and it will also have internet access that will enable doctors to get quick test results for patients.
Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of Uganda Cancer Institute while speaking at the handover event said the mobile van will help promote early detection of cancer in the country.
"We have a problem of late detection in this country. People come when the cancer is mature and there's nothing much we can do but manage pain." Hon. Opendi said cancer is increasing in Uganda.
“We are seeing so many cancer patients in Uganda today, actually from statistics, out of every 100,000 population, we have 300 patients annually and people are saying cancer is increasing. So it is important that we have regular checkups. We want to track this van to see where it will go. We don’t want to hear that this van is rotating around Kampala” the minister said.
Cervical and breast cancer are the most common types of cancers in the country affecting women, followed by Kaposi sarcoma. This is according to the country registry.
The donor, Agrawal Sahat Pledged to work with UCI so that the institute can become a centre of excellence for cancer treatment in the region.
"I do not want poor people to have to spend all that they have to treat cancer. I am willing to work with everyone here to make sure that people get the care they need when they need it" he said.
According to UCI, the van is estimated to have cost USD 150,000 (560 million Shillings). It shall be maintained free of charge by Tata Uganda for a period of two years.