Aga Khan hospital offers free treatment to 400 Uganda cancer patients

Tuesday April 19 2016

Chief radiologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Stanley Rutajunara explains how the linear accelerator machine is used in cancer treatment in this picture taken on January 3, 2012. PHOTO | FILE

Chief radiologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Stanley Rutajunara explains how the linear accelerator machine is used in cancer treatment in this picture taken on January 3, 2012. The hospital has offered to treat 400 Ugandan cancer patients for free after sole radiotherapy machine at Uganda Cancer Institute in Mulago, broke down. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By TheEastAfrican.co.ke Reporter

The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi (AKUH-Nairobi) has offered to treat 400 Ugandan cancer patients for free after the country's sole radiotherapy machine broke down.

Uganda’s largest referral hospital, Mulago, had only one radiotherapy machine which was procured 21 years ago. The machine breakdown left its 17,000 cancer patients in need of radiotherapy care in jeopardy.

“We are committed to working with the Government of Uganda to help save the lives of cancer patients in need of treatment while it works to re-establish its radiation therapy capacity,” said AKUH-Nairobi chief executive officer Shawn Bolouki.

“Our values as an institution dictate nothing less. While we can only treat a small fraction of those requiring care, given our resources and the tremendous need that exists, we will do all we can to help, and we encourage others to follow our lead.”

Uganda’s Health Minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi said last week that the government would plan for transport and accommodation for the patients. He said only those who are badly off will benefit.

The treatment will be paid for by Aga Khan University’s (AKU) Patient Welfare Programme, which is funded by the hospital and augmented by individual and corporate donors and provides subsidised medical care to needy patients.

Aga Khan University also plans to construct a teaching hospital in Kampala, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2020. The facility will focus on intensive research in the field of neurosciences and stem cell research alongside treatment of heart problems and non-communicable diseases.

This is the second time that AKUH-Nairobi has offered such assistance to cancer patients. Last year, it provided free radiation therapy to Kenyan patients, including children, after the breakdown of radiotherapy machines at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

The Aga Khan hospital, the only one in East Africa to earn accreditation from US-based Joint Commission International, has in the last two years offered 446 free medical camps 135 of which were for cancer.