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As Uganda joins the rest of the world in commemoration of the World Cancer day that takes place on 4th February every year; there is every reason to worry.
New evidence reveals,In 2017, it is estimated that there will be14 million new cases of cancer while 8 million people will die from the disease globally.
This year the day will be held under the theme “We can. I can”, to provide an opportunity to inspire ourselves both As individuals and society at large to take action within everybody’s ability to reduce the burden and impact of cancer.
A large number of unnecessary deaths and suffering from cancer is preventable but requires collaborative action both at individual and collective levels with support of key leaders in our society.
Cancer affects everyone in different ways and everyone has the power to take action to reduce the impact that cancer has.
According to Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health, the World Cancer day is a chance to reflect on what you can do, make a pledge and take action.
Evidence indicates that more than a third of all cancers are Preventable through simple lifestyle measures such as stopping smoking, eating healthy foods with less fats, salts and sugars but more of fresh fruits and vegetables, keeping physically active and reducing alcohol use.
These measures protect both against cancer and other dangerous Non–‐ communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.
As such, we call on individuals to take initiative and responsibility for reducing their own cancer risk.
Non–‐communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cancer are The leading causes of death in the world.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates indicate that NCDs cause 68% of all deaths, with a big number being premature deaths of people in their prime and productive Years of life (30– 69).
Evidence also shows that these diseases are on the increase and disproportionately affecting low–‐ and middle -‐income countries, including Uganda.
In Uganda, Cervical cancer, Kaposi Sarcoma, Prostate cancer, Breast cancer and cancer of the Oesophagus are
The top 5 most common cancers as ranked by the number of new cases. Cervical and Breast cancers are the most common among Women while prostate cancer and Kaposi Sarcoma are common among men.
The HMIS data shows that number of newly diagnosed cancer cases is on the rise in Uganda. For instance, cervical cancer in women has been reported to increase from 1,300 new cases in 2014 to 1,500 in 2015 and 1,800 new cases in 2016.
Likewise, prostate cancer in men has shown the same trend between the years 2014 and 2016.
These are only reported cases in our health facilities and many still remain undiagnosed and therefore not included in these figures.
Most of the cancer cases are diagnosed in advanced stages Of the disease (III/IV) which reduces individuals’ chances of survival.
The month of February has been declared a cancer month and therefore call upon the population to seek cancer related services especially screening at our health facilities
Across the country to avoid late diagnosis that impacts survival rate. The Uganda Ministry of Health acknowledges the burden and threat of Cancer and other NCDs and pledges commitment in addressing them.
The ministry has pledged to increase public awareness on NCDs especially our shared risk factors namely; Tobacco Use, Physical inactivity, Unhealthy diets, Harmful use of alcohol.
Some cancers for example cancer of the cervix and cancer Of the liver can be prevented by immunizations.
The Ministry has also committed itself to vaccinate the public Against these cancers.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination against cancer Of the cervix is now available across the country and girls Aged 10 years can access it in all our health facilities.
Hepatitis B vaccine against cancer of the liver is part of routine childhood immunizations and parents are urged to ensure their children complete immunizations by the time they are one year.
Hepatitis B immunization for adults is also available in high burden districts and will soon be available across the country.
Cancer and other NCDs can be prevented through; regular exercises, Eating healthy foods including Fresh fruits and vegetables, Avoiding tobacco use, Avoiding Harmful use of alcohol, Regular health checks, Necessary immunizations.
The Ministry of Health is undertaking a number of interventions to control and reduce the risks of cancer in the country.
These, among others include; Establishing a state of the Art centre of excellence in cancer care, training and research at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). The UCI is a centre of excellence for cancer in the East African region.
The UCI is building capacity of other Regional Referral Hospitals in cancer care and so far Mbarara and Arua are on board.
Next will be Gulu and Mbale RRHs. A community cancer centre has been established at Kigandalo HC IV in Mayuge district, Eastern Uganda; the only one of its kind in Africa
Awareness campaigns about the disease through sensitizing the public about the risk factors.
According to health ministries, these strategies will go a long way in preventing cancer, but also in improving lives of people with Cancer.