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UCI Seeks More Land to Complete Regional Cancer Center :: Uganda Radionetwork
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UCI Seeks More Land to Complete Regional Cancer Center

Dr. Jackson Orem, the UCI Executive Director told stakeholders Friday that access to more land will enable the government to proceed with the phased establishment of other infrastructural development at the cancer center.
Prof. William Bazeyo, the Uganda Cancer Institute Board Chairman (with hat) interacts with UCI board members during a visit at Northern Regional Cancer Center in Gulu on Friday.

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Uganda Cancer Institute -UCI is seeking additional land from Gulu City Council authorities to facilitate the completion of the Northern Regional Cancer Center project.

The Center, built by the government at an estimated 30 billion shillings, currently sits on a 4.5-acre out of the proposed 10 acres of land located in Koro Kal cell in Gulu City. 

With the first phase of the construction works estimated at a nearly 90 percent completion, officials at UCI note that there is a need for more land to complete infrastructural development.

Dr. Jackson Orem, the UCI Executive Director told stakeholders Friday that access to more land will enable the government to proceed with the phased establishment of other infrastructural development at the cancer center. He gave the update while updating UCI board members who had paid a visit to the facility to monitor its progress.

According to Dr. Orem, the cancer center construction will take three phases and notes that in the second and third phases, the government plans to establish complex facilities such as radiotherapy to aid the treatment of cancer patients.

He however notes that currently, the cancer center in Gulu has no land for the project despite an offer from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to support the government in establishing a radiotherapy facility. 

Under the “Rays of Hope” project, the IAEA aims to facilitate the expansion of radiotherapy facilities to its member countries across the globe.

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Dr. Orem says the success of further development of the facility now depends on the leadership of Gulu City and Omoro District to give an additional six acres of land that will accommodate the second and third phases of the project.

According to Dr. Orem, the expansion of the cancer center will greatly help to lower the cost of cancer treatment and ensure timely diagnosis of cancer patients from upcountry.

Statistics from the cancer institute indicate about 85 percent of cancer patients in the country who seek treatment from Mulago National Referral Hospital are from upcountry.

Prof. William Bazeyo, the Board Chairperson of UCI noted that more land is also needed to facilitate the establishment of a waste disposal site and construction of accommodation for staff at the cancer center.

According to reports from Julius Ddamulira, the Project Architect at UCI, out of the 4.5-acre piece of land, half of it has already been developed adding that there isn’t more land currently for further infrastructural expansion.

Currently, in the first phase of the project, the center already has a mini–Outpatient Department (OPD), a Pharmacy, radiology, a small laboratory, and wards consisting of three private rooms, three theaters, a general ICU, a cafeteria, laundry, and a mortuary.

In the second phase, the government has proposed to construct a four-storied facility consisting of the main hospital, an extension of the radiology unit for the MRI suite, the main OPD, an emergency unit, and general infusion and administration unit.

Ddamulira says the third phase will entail construction of the Radiotherapy facility with a ward, pediatric ward, High Dependency Unit, and a fully equipped clinical laboratory.

But Gulu City Council Speaker Halima Joyce Rene noted that the land in question surrounding the cancer center is still under the management of the Omoro District Local government adding that there is need to bring them on board in the discussion.

“It's difficult to advocate for land under somebody’s management. Omoro District Local government is the one managing the land even if now in the city center,” said Halima.

Koro Kal cell, where the current Cancer center is located, was formerly under Koro Sub-County in Omoro District. It was however annexed to Gulu Municipality in 2019 to boost its territory for the city's status attainment. 

Efforts to get comments from Omoro District Chairperson Douglas Peter Okello were futile by press time.

The Northern Regional Cancer Center whose construction kicked off in 2021 partially opened its doors to cancer patients in July last year. Since then, the facility has registered a total of 377 clients out of whom 221 were with confirmed diagnosis of cancer. The Facility is expected to be commissioned in June this year.