“We are committed to working with the Government of Uganda to help save the lives of cancer patients in need of treatment while it works to re-establish its radiation therapy capacity,” said AKUH-Nairobi Chief Executive Officer, Shawn Bolouki.
The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi (AKUH-Nairobi) announced Tuesday that it will work with the Government of Uganda to provide as many as 400 cancer patients with free treatment in response to the breakdown of Uganda's only radiotherapy machine.
"We are committed to working with the Government of Uganda to help save the lives of cancer patients in need of treatment while it works to re-establish its radiation therapy capacity," said AKUH-Nairobi Chief Executive Officer, Shawn Bolouki.
"Our values as an institution dictate nothing less. While we can only treat a small fraction of those requiring care, given our resources and the tremendous need that exists, we will do all we can to help, and we encourage others to follow our lead."
Patient-related logistics are being discussed with the relevant authorities. The treatments will be paid for by Aga Khan University's (AKU) Patient Welfare Programme, which is funded by the hospital and augmented by individual and corporate donors and provides subsidized medical care to needy patients.
The announcement is part of AKU's commitment to providing high-quality health care to the people of Uganda and to combatting the growth of non-communicable diseases such as cancer in East Africa.
In December, His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of AKU, and His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni announced plans to build a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala (AKUH-Kampala).
The first phase of construction is expected to be completed in 2020.
This is the second time that AKUH-Nairobi has offered such assistance to cancer patients. Last year, it provided free radiation therapy to Kenyan patients, including children, after the breakdown of radiotherapy machines at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.
AKUH-Nairobi's Heart and Cancer Centre, which was inaugurated in 2011, is the first centre of its kind in East Africa. With two radiotherapy units and six radiation oncologists, it provides a wide range of cancer care that meets international standards.
Services offered include early detection and screening programmes, specialised diagnostics, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, as well as palliative and rehabilitation programmes.
In 2014 and 2015, the University Hospital also provided free health screening services at 446 camps attended by 136,000 people, 135 of which provided cancer screening.
The only hospital in East Africa accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International, AKUH-Nairobi and its 46 medical and diagnostic clinics in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are part of the Aga Khan Development Network's (AKDN) extensive health care system in East Africa, which includes three other hospitals and additional health centres operated by the Aga Khan Health Services.
In total, the system recorded more than 1.3 million patient admissions and visits in 2015.
By 2030, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are expected to become the leading cause of death in Africa, and the cancer burden is expected to grow by 85 percent.
In 2012, approximately 645,000 new cancer cases and 456,000 cancer deaths occurred in Africa. AKU faculty members are researching ways to combat the rise of non-communicable diseases in East Africa.
Construction of AKUH-Nairobi's Heart and Cancer Centre was supported by US$ 35 million in financing provided through Agence Francaise de Developpement, grants from His Highness the Aga Khan and a donation from the Jimmy Sayani family of Nairobi.
Mulago radiotherapy machine breaks down
Construction of Aga Khan Hospital kicks off