Rotary International and St. Francis Nsambya Hospital had only a dream; a dream to build a Cancer treatment centre of excellence in both Uganda and the region.
Then, there was no such a facility at the Hospital.
Rotary together with Centenary Bank thought that bringing government departments, private institutions, civil society and individuals together for a Cancer Run to raise funds would help realise the dream.
Six years later, the Cancer Ward, has been constructed and partly equipped and functional at Nsambya Hospital.
“This is a challenging but fulfilling assignment. After four years, we have put up the structure, which has been functional for two years now,” said Stephen Mwanje, the past Rotary District Governor. This was at a function held to launch the 6th Cancer Run graced by the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, and held at Nsambya Hospital on Thursday 29th June 2017.
“The building is not enough because we need to equip it and train medical professionals,” Mwanje added.
Mwanje said that international partners had donated to the hospital a new Linear Accelerator machine valued at US$ 4 million. The machine is most commonly used for external beam radiation treatment for patients with cancer, treating all parts/organs of the body.
He however said that the hospital required to build a bunker costing US$ 1 million (UShs 3.7 billion) before the machine can be sent to the country.
“The need for a bunker is informed by the hazardous nature of radioactive material that requires specialized bunkers that have to be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he said.
Mwanje said that Rotary intends to have four Linear Accelerator machines, with four bunkers which will be handled in a phased manner.
“We will not give up; our target is to finish the bunkers by 2020,” said Mwanje adding that “We have the same energy, same optimism and the same commitment but we need to rethink our approach to fundraising in order to meet the Shs 3.7 billion target we have set ourselves for Cancer Run 6.”
Godfrey Byekwaso, the General Manager (Finance) at Centenary Bank, said that the Bank has set Shs 250 million towards activities of Rotary, of which Shs 130 million was dedicated towards the Cancer Run 2017.
He said that he was impressed that the activities of Rotary were showing results in more people testing for cancer, change in lifestyles and donating towards cancer treatment.
The Rotary International President Nominee, Sam Owori, appealed to MPs to work with Rotary to develop and improve water, sanitation, maternal health and other aspects in their constituencies.
Speaker Kadaga pledged Shs 449 million as Parliament’s contribution towards the Cancer Run. She said that the problems of cancer in the country cannot be over emphasized and that a collective effort was required to address it.
She said that her proposal to have automatic cervical cancer testing for women, like is the case in some countries, was failed by men who never wanted testing for their wives.
“Awareness and screening for cancer needs to be increased especially in rural areas. I hope we can get to the level of automatic screening for cancer,” she said.
Kadaga bought the first Rotary Cancer Run ticket valued at UShs 20,000. The Run is scheduled for 27th August, 2017.