The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, has pledged more financial support to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) to enable it improve the treatment of cancer.
Tayebwa, who paid a courtesy visit to the facility, said that with proper funding and required equipment in place, several medical experts scattered in different countries will return to work in Uganda.
“The biggest factor is funding… once we fund the institute, bring in all this machinery, our Ugandan experts suffering in winter will come back,” said Tayebwa, who toured the institute where he was impressed with the ongoing construction works on the US$13 million East African Centre of Excellence Research facility for cancer and different phases of renovations at the facility.
Visiting UCI on Tuesday 29 November 2022, Tayebwa said that government will have a dialogue on the support to be given to the institute ahead of the budgeting process of the 2023/2024 financial year.
Tayebwa said he has got assurance that treatment and medication are free contrary to reports that exorbitant fees are charged at the institute. He tasked the institute on charging exorbitant fees for the treatment of cancer, saying several Ugandans had complained about the charges. He added that the legislature and government look at the UCI as a critical entity as many people are dying of cancer.
“I have confirmed today that government has provided all the funding necessary to buy the medicine for cancer for the patients who come here [UCI]. Once they are treating you and managing you here, then they are able to give you free medicine,” Tayebwa said.
He said that Parliament wants to ensure that the gap of lack of equipment and specialists is bridged. He also promised that attention will be given to the Uganda Heart Institute as well.
Prof. William Bazeyo, the Chairperson of the UCI Board, said that indeed with exception of the private wing, and cases of people who try to get their way through under the table services, treatment at the facility is free.
“Chemotherapy drugs are all free. There is no consultation fee for consultants because they do not operate privately. When you come to see a consultant, you will not be charged a fee. Ugandans should know that we have free services for cancer,” he said.
Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of the UCI, said that the biggest need identified includes funds for competition of buildings. He also said that the institute is in the process of starting personalized medicine for some cancer patients.
“We already have the capacity that we have built over time, what we need now is support.” Orem said.