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Rising cancer related deaths is a concern for us all

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Added 15th November 2018 11:12 AM

I am writing this article to stimulate interest of New Vision readers and others and to ask each one of us to do something about cancer.

Rising cancer related deaths is a concern for us all

I am writing this article to stimulate interest of New Vision readers and others and to ask each one of us to do something about cancer.


When my wife died (bless her soul) 10 years ago, I was shuttered. But remembering what she often said, that as human beings we live individual lives, I shook off my tragedy and faced the reality of life after her.

The major issue was what was the point of two of us dyeing and leaving our children helpless? My wife succumbed to cancer at the young age of 53 well below the life expectancy of Ugandans this past decade estimated at 60 years.

This year, 2018, has further emboldened and shaken me into a state of not just living but to live for others that are afflicted by the scourge of cancer, people that are staring into the eyes of death and have to suffer the indignity of poor care at our health institutions

I am writing this article to stimulate interest of New Vision readers and others and to ask each one of us to do something about cancer.  

In recent months, hardly a week elapses before someone known to me and to you passes on. And what is the cause? It is cancer.

Just last week we lost Kembabazi, a woman entrepreneur par excellence. The previous month, we also lost yet another famous lady, the admirable Dr Ndyanabangi, who had fought tooth and nail and preached the message of the dangers of smoking, to not only active smokers but to passive innocent ones too.

Many organisations have undertaken commendable efforts and I can single out Rotary Clubs, which on annual basis, raise funds for cancer management.

Unfortunately, thousands are increasingly dying of the disease. Statistics from Uganda Cancer Institute, the main treatment centre not only in Uganda, but the whole of the East African region as well.

Patients come from throughout Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan and even Western Kenya to crowd the ill equipped Cancer institute treatment facility at Mulago. The statistics show that in 2017, there were 5,000 new cases of cancer, 400 of whom were children with a coverage of 65,000 patient days. The number of days of service providers at the centre is not given.

The number of cancer cases in 2017 is a significant jump by 4,000 patients clearly indicating that the cancer burden is increasing.

A visit to the centre moves you and tests your emotions. The facility is overcrowded. Come rain come sunshine, patients have to weather it all.

They are lying or sleeping on the veranda in miserable heaps of humanity. They are very far from their close relatives and are only occasionally seen by care givers.

And here is where you, as reader or a member of your family come in. Find time and visit the cancer treatments centre at Mulago and I dare your resistance to human emotions.

As a victim of the cancer scourge, and in partnership with Uganda Cancer Society, we are taking the bull by the horn as it were.

First, I have established a cancer foundation in the names of my late wife, Sarah and it is named the Nabasirye Cancer Foundation. Secondly, we sought out partnership with Winners Media, a private company.

Thirdly, we are working hard to partner with Parliament of Uganda and finally; we have created an innovative style of fund raising.

In partnership with the Uganda Cancer Society, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed in which the parties have committed themselves to work together on a five year development plan.

The plan includes the construction of a support and information centre modelled on the Maggie's and Macmillan cancer information and support centres of UK.

The centres are networks of drop-in facilities across the United Kingdom, which aim to help anyone who has been affected by cancer.

They are not intended as a replacement for conventional cancer therapy, but as a caring environment that can provide support, information and practical advice.

They are located near, but are detached from, existing National Health Service hospitals.

The Macmillan cancer information and support centre provides information and support to patients and their carers or relatives, healthcare professionals and members of the public.

It offers information about cancer at all stages of the disease, the types of treatment that may be offered to patients and the services that are available locally.

If you or your family has been affected by cancer, you can get free, confidential advice about welfare benefits and money from a specialist Macmillan benefits adviser which can be arranged via the information centre. This is the model we want to work on and accomplish

The partnership has come out with a plan to raise the millions of shillings that shall be required to construct and establish the support and information centre.

To begin with, we are arranging a music extravagance of the type that used to move and should move everyone to the dancing stage.

The music concert shall be led by a rumba genre of yester years of the group that dominated music scene throughout central and eastern Africa.

The group is Bana OK Jazz, successor to TP OK Jazz founded by Franco Luambo Makiadi. It is led by Simaro Lutumba, a protégé of Franco a man that grew and matured with TP.

For the new comer to Congolese music history, a brief snippet will inform that OK Jazz was one of the earliest music bands coming out of Kinshasa or colonial Leopoldville.

The contemporary group at the time was African Jazz which emerged from the vibrant urban culture of Léopoldville during the last decade of Belgian colonialism.

Its music, driven by members of the African middle class, became popular during the move towards independence as an expression of rising national self-confidence. We thus enjoyed listening and dancing to the pre-independence "Congo la independence chachacha".

The new musical style, pioneered by the group, brought together foreign musical influences, especially Cubanand western instruments with indigenous musical rhythms. The band itself was created at the by Joseph Kabasele Tshamala, known as Le Grand Kallé, in 1953.

There followed, in 1955, OK Jazz created by Franco at the time known as François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi. Franco, started playing music at age 12 and formed a band that debuted in the OK Bar.

The following year the band was renamed OK Jazz in honour of the place it had begun but later underwent another change to Tout Puissant O.K. Jazz or the the Almighty O.K. Jazz.

Born at Matonge, in present day Kinshasa on July 6, 1938 Franco became a huge figure in 20th-century African music in general.

He developed an admirable mastery of rumba and was consequently nicknamed the "Sorcerer of the Guitar" for his seemingly effortless fluid playing.

As a founder of the seminal OK Jazz, he is counted as one of the originators of the modern Congolese sound. Franco died in Belgium on October, 12, 1989. This date in October is usually marked widely in Kenya and Zambia where his music still pulls big crowds.

It is in recognition of Franco's contribution to African music that the fund raising effort for cancer is being pegged, in many ways to associate ourselves with his dominance of African music and tell a story that we are vulnerable to nature's forces, cancer being one of them, however much we may master the art of what we do.

Bana OK Jazz will be playing at the fund raising concert at Imperial Royale, the Primrose Hall. Be there in the cause of fighting cancer.

The writer is an agricultural scientist



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