Uganda registers at least 2,100 child cancer cases annually.
As the country continues to register more cases of paediatric cancers, the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has launched the East Africa childhood cancers and blood related diseases fellowship training programme. The programme is being offered under the East African oncology institute.
Dr Joyce Kambugu, a paediatric oncologist at UCI said the programme is aimed at training specialist paediatricians with special skills in treating children with cancer, sickle cell anaemia and other blood related diseases.
"The training is the first of its kind in East African region and Sub-Saharan Africa and it is being rolled out under the umbrella of the East Africa oncology institute," she explained.
Kambugu also said the programme will not only benefit Ugandan doctors but also other people from EAC member states.
Annually, Uganda registers at least 2,100 child cancer cases. She added that children constitute only 9% of the cancer burden in Uganda.
Speaking at the launch of the training fellowship programme in Kampala, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda reiterated government's commitment to address the problem of cancer and related diseases.
"Reducing child mortality is even more critical in East Africa since we have a predominantly young population, with about 50% of the population under 15 years. The Uganda Cancer Institute has historically made ground-breaking discoveries that informed the rest of the world about childhood cancers and their treatment," Rugunda said.
The East African Development Bank recently gave a loan to the East African Community (EAC) member states and each country was to set up a centre of excellence in non-communicable diseases, each country was also asked to choose its strongest area.
Uganda Cancer Institute was chosen as the centre of excellence for oncology in East Africa and this means that the institute, which has been a national referral in cancer management, will turn into a regional referral admitting patients from the five EAC countries.