Shawn Bolouki, the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan University Hospital said that the radiotherapy treatment will be paid for through the hospitals - Patient Welfare Programme, funded by the hospital and augmented by individual and corporate donors. The programme provides subsidized medical care to needy patients.
This new health partnership in Uganda may be on the verge of changing the lives of cancer patients for good
For 400 cancer patients in Uganda, another chance at living a long life may be just around the corner, following the efforts made by the Aga Khan University Hospital to formalise free radiotherapy treatment for them. Yesterday, the hospital which is based in Nairobi, Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ugandan Ministry of Health allowing them to commence the free treatment of cancer patients, while the Ugandan government works on replacing its broken down – and only – radiotherapy machine. The patients will be travelling to the hospital in Kenya in batches of 20 individuals.
Every year in Uganda, around 3,000 people need radiotherapy treatment, and this exceeds the ability of the country’s cancer institute to treat them adequately. These patients usually have to rely on the option of travelling overseas to access the level of specialised healthcare that they require, and most cannot afford to. Thus, to support such individuals, the Aga Khan hospital is entering into partnerships such as the present one with the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) to help reduce their health and financial burdens.
The UCI, which is committed to researching and treating cancer in Uganda, has been plagued with infrastructural challenges that hamper its effectiveness. This includes equipment that are inadequate and obsolete, unavailability of funds, lack of drugs and poor staffing. Therefore, the current partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network will assist in boosting the confidence and capability of the institute.
For now, approved cancer patients with tumours and significant chances of surviving their ordeal will be provided with road transportation to Nairobi. The Uganda High Commission will provide the patients with accommodation in Nairobi, along with other forms of support that they would require. In the long run, however, plans are being made to establish the Aga Khan hospital in Kampala, and Ugandan cancer patients would soon be able to access specialised healthcare in their home country.
The Aga Khan hospital made their intentions to support the Ugandan Ministry of Health known in April when the only radiotherapy machine in the country malfunctioned. The signing of the MoU took place yesterday in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Kampala, and was signed in the presence of representatives of the ministry and the Aga Khan Development Network.
The world does not only operate via commercial enterprises and this has been amply proved by the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi.
Their gesture, offering free radiotherapy treatment to over 400 Ugandan cancer patients, even if it were though an MOU with Uganda’s cancer institute, is very commendable and I would wish to suggest that other companies and organizations follow suit.
Not only does this give hope to patients, it also shows that there is a lot of positives in regional cooperation.
Uganda: Two Cancer Patients Return From Aga Khan Hospital
By Shiffa Kulanyi
Kampala — The patients, Mary Birungi and Mary Gahoire, from Mbarara and Hoima districts respectively, were the first in a group of seven that Hospice Africa took to the Aga Khan hospital for treatment.
Uganda's only radiotherapy machine broke down in early April, leaving about 2,000 patients stranded. Hospice is a charity that cares for terminally-ill patients.
Ms Miriam Donohoe, the charity's communications and advocacy consultant, said the patients that Hospice sends to Kenya are funded under the Road to Care programme, which was initiated by Canadian doctor Joda Kuk in 2011.
"He observed the enormous needs of women with cervical cancer in rural settings during a visit to Hospice Africa Uganda," said Ms Donohoe.
"After Uganda's only radiotherapy machine collapsed, it was agreed to use the programme to send Hospice patients to Nairobi for treatment," she added.
The two patients spent a total of 10 weeks in Nairobi.
First Cardiology Fellowship Programme Introduced
In The Region At Aga Khan University Hospital
Coastweek-- The number of heart specialist doctors in Kenya and the region is set to increase and ultimately improve care for patients suffering from heart diseases thanks to a Cardiology Training Fellowship Programme started by Aga Khan University Hospital to train qualified physicians in the specialty.
The University Hospital is currently the only one offering a structured curriculum-based programme in cardiology in the region.
To be admitted to this highly competitive and intense programme, candidates should possess a Master of Medicine degree or an equivalent Royal College of Physicians degree.
The training entails multiple rotations in five core areas of practice including inpatient rotations, outpatient rotations, imaging rotations, cardiac catheterization laboratory and completion of a research project before completion of the programme.
“For the first time in Kenya, we are now able to train cardiologists to conduct complex procedures in heart medicine including implantation of heart devices and procedures related to haemodynamics (blood pressure evaluation in heart chambers) monitoring in very sick patients.
Physicians interested in pursuing a cardiology specialisation don’t have to leave the country as they have a capable and equivalent facility locally.”
“Training is hands-on with a dedicated team of consultant cardiologists who are widely involved in research to improve existing care models and innovations in methods of care delivery.
“Fellows are trained on how to conduct and interpret different cardiology imaging modalities including echocardiography, cardiac MRI, cardiac CT scan and nuclear imaging to make diagnosis”, says Dr Mzee Ngunga, Director, Cardiology Fellowship Programme and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Aga Khan University Hospital.
The three year training programme curriculum is tailored for Africa with a bit of borrowing from North America particularly on fellow evaluation and assessment.
Currently three fellows are undergoing the programme with a fourth one expected to join in mid 2018.
“This is the first recognised fellowship programme in cardiology in the region and its uniqueness stems from the fact that our fellows undergo a structured and curriculum-based programme that models them into a well rounded cardiologist that can deliver care to patients in a dynamic and challenging environment in Africa”, says Dr Mohamed Jeilan, Director, Cardiology Services at the hospital.
According to Dr Ngunga, currently with a population of 48 million, Kenya has only about 40 cardiologists, most of whom practice in Nairobi and the other few in Kisumu and Mombasa which unfortunately leaves the rest of the population with long distances to travel to access care.
This means every cardiologist attends to 1.2 million Kenyans, a dire deficit the fellowship programme is aiming to address.
Cardiovascular disease including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s number one killer.
Each year, it’s responsible for 17.5 million deaths and by 2030 this is expected to rise to 23 million.
In Africa, the latest projections suggest that by 2030 more people will die from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause of death.
The rate of progression in this condition is both remarkable and alarming.
The fact that Kenyans in their twenties and thirties are now experiencing heart attacks means we can no longer afford to ignore the growing risk of heart disease and need to have adequate and capable cardiac personnel to handle the challenges ahead.
Kenya now joins other few African countries offering the programme like Egypt, South Africa and The Sudan.
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