After years of patients traveling to countries like India for bone marrow transplants, a procedure that doesn’t come cheap, information reaching the RX Radio news desk indicates that Uganda will be carrying out the operation within the country at no cost.
Speaking to James Onen aka Fatboy on The Fatboy Show this Wednesday morning, the Cancer Institute Spokesperson Christine Namulindwa confirmed that they are now setting up systems and expect that by 2024, Uganda will have the first bone marrow transplant.
A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure carried on cancer and sickle cell patients that involves getting cells from the patient’s/donor’s bone marrow, filtering them and giving them back to the patient. The procedure is similar to a blood transfusion and is done to infuse healthy bone marrow cells into a patient after their abnormal bone marrow ones are treated and destroyed.
According to the Cancer Institute’s spokesperson, setting up of the facility and procuring equipment will be done in a period of two years, all fully funded by the Government of Uganda.
Fatboy then inquired about the probable costs of the procedure, given that one requires lumpsums for the operation which has even rendered many to seek financial help from platforms such as social media.
In her response, Ms Namulindwa said, “The Uganda Cancer Institute is set up on a system of providing free services and our medication and consultation are freely provided for by the government. So we anticipate that once this service is in place, we shall not be charging Ugandans for it.”
The spokesperson then affirmed that the development will create an avenue for employment for both doctors and nurses, further encouraging students to specialize in the field.
“My appeal to those in medical school or students yet to join is to consider specializing in this field because at the Cancer Institute we have fellowship programmes where we train students in their different specialities. So they can contact us if they want to expand their skills in this field because in East Africa, it's only the Uganda Cancer Institute that is training cancer specialists in the region,” she said.
Figures from the Uganda Medical Board show that over 20 Ugandans travel out the country annually for bone marrow transplants, spending between shs.150million to shs.200million (approximately $42,000 - $56,000) for the transplant and accommodation till recovery that can take up to a month.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, Sarah and Lesham every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.