More Resources Needed to Treat Cancer in Children - UCI

Currently, as we commemorate World Children Cancer day on 15th February 2021, the number of children diagnosed with cancer in Uganda stands at a low 30% according to Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
14 Feb 2021 13:10

As the world commemorates the Children Cancer Day on 15th February 2021, only 30% of the the children diagnosed with cancer in Uganda are getting treatment, according to Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).

Dr. Joyce Balagadde Kambugu, a Consultant and Head of Pediatric Oncology at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) says of the close to 6,000 children tested and found with cancer in Uganda, only 30% get to the hospital and are treated.

She cites lack of proper knowledge about cancer in Uganda, where parents fail to test early for cancer among their children, inadequate health facilities, poor communications about cancer, high cost of treatment of cancer among children with cancer, social and cultural beliefs among people in communities about cancer and  abandonment of treatment.

Dr. Samuel Guma, Chairman Uganda Cancer Society (UCS) says most of the people in rural communities  are poor and disadvantaged. They find difficulty in accessing information about cancer among their children, in order to start them on treatment.

This is worsened by the high cost involved in the travel, treatment, food and shortage of cancer testing and treatment facilities in the country. At some health centres there are few beds which leaves parents with cancerous children with no option but to commute from home. This becomes expensive to sustain for most parents,  who end up sleeping on verandas of Uganda Cancer Institute in Mulago national referral hospital or under the tents.

At the Uganda Cancer Institute, 92% of the drugs required for cancer treatment are available for use.  The challenge remains that most of these cancer drug doses are for adults. This makes treatment of cancer among children more difficult in Uganda. It's partly the reason why only 30% of the children are treated and out of those, 70% die from cancer.

Dr. Jackson Orem, UCI Executive Director says the strategy to reduce the cancer burden in Uganda aims at early prevention efforts, early detection of Cancer through community sensitization and as such, mobilization to test for cancer must be increased in Uganda to fight against cancer among children.

He says more human, facilities and financial resources should be placed on treatment of children with cancer, whose number increases by more than 50% annually.

The World Health Organization (WHO) set a target to increase the survival rate of cancer among children at 60% by the year 2030. In Uganda, 70% of the 30% children who get treatment die.