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Cancer patients’ hostels providing homes away from home

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Added 5th February 2018 04:30 PM

About 80 patients’ and 80 carers’ beds are available each night in Kampala. Three meals are served to each patient and one care-giver daily.

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About 80 patients’ and 80 carers’ beds are available each night in Kampala. Three meals are served to each patient and one care-giver daily.

By Innocet Atuhe

Every February 4, the world commemorates World Cancer Day. This day is an initiative of Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2018 enabled us to explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals  –  can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. Just as cancer affects everyone in different ways, all people have the power to take various actions to reduce the impact that cancer has on individuals, families and communities.

Globally, about 715,000 new cancer cases and 542,000 cancer deaths occurred in 2008 in Africa (GLOBO-CAN, 2008). These numbers are projected to nearly double (1.28 million new cancer cases and 970,000 cancer deaths) by 2030 simply due to the aging and growth of the population, with the potential to be even higher because of the adoption of behav¬iour and lifestyles associated with economic development, such as smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

According to the World Health Organisation Report (2014), from 2000 to 2012, 353,000 cancer deaths occurred in Uganda. This translates in 74 cancer deaths per day. What makes it more painful in Uganda is that most cancer deaths occur among the productive age group of 30-50 years and the number of new cases is ever on the increase.

Difficulties in accessing appropriate accommodation and transport is a well-documented as a major stress factor for cancer patients seeking care at Uganda Cancer Institute. This limits access to cancer treatment services and negatively affects the quality of life of cancer patients.

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) recommends establishment of “Hope Lodges” as a way of enabling cancer patients access treatment, who would otherwise be prevented by transport and accommodation challenges (UICC, 2014).

All hope is not lost. As of today, five cancer patients hostels have been established in Kampala. The hostels provide accommodation and meals to cancer outpatients and their carers as they wait for / receive treatment at Uganda Cancer Institute.

Priority is given to cancer patients who come from upcountry as they wait for laboratory results or receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. With the arrival of new radiotherapy machine, more cancer patients will be able to access treatment. Such patients will also access accommodation, meals and transport to and from the Uganda Cancer Institute.

About 80 patients’ and 80 carers’ beds are available each night in Kampala. Three meals are served to each patient and one care-giver daily. In addition, patients are assisted by navigators from the hostels to locate where different cancer services are and linked to social workers at Uganda Cancer Institute.

The road to care is now smooth. Hostels provide an environment that is almost as similar to the home environment. Thanks to some good-hearted Ugandans. You can also play your role by supporting the hostels with which ever little support you have; be it financial or material support like food. We are all candidates for cancer. I Can. We Can.

Patients from up country can access cancer treatment without worrying about accommodation, meals or getting lost in Kampala and later on with in Uganda Cancer Institute as they seek or get cancer treatment. All this has been with effort of good-hearted Ugandans and support of the American Cancer Society.

However, there is need to establish more cancer patient’s hostels to cater for increasing number of cancer patients coming to Kampala for treatment and support for existing hostels to accommodate and feed more cancer patients.

This writer is the secretary general, Uganda Cancer Patients’ Hostels Association. Co-writers; Albert Tusiime, the executive director of the Haven Cancer Patients’ Hostel

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