Cancer machine finally arrives before Uganda hosts Muslim medical Association meeting
KAMPALA: After almost two agonising years of waiting, cancer patients will breathe a sigh of relief after the new radiotherapy machine arrived into the country this week.
It was shipped from Czech Republic through Mombasa port with guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations body that regulates use of nuclear and atomic energy.
Purchased at 642,000 euros (more than Shs2.7b) by both government and IAEA, the machine replaces the old cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, which broke down beyond repair on March 27, 2016, leaving about 2,000 patients without proper treatment and some people died in the process.
In the absence of a cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, the patients in the country were advised to travel to Nairobi, Kenya for treatment. Others were changed to chemotherapy, surgery and palliative care.
The broken machine was donated to Uganda by the Chinese authorities in 1995. It’s expected to be shipped back to China.
The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) director, Dr Jackson Orem told Sunday Monitor on Friday that “the new machine has finally arrived in Kampala.”
“The machine is in a warehouse somewhere in Kampala, a container containing its parts will be delivered to UCI on Wednesday and installation is expected to last at least one month,” Dr Orem said.
Dr Orem also disclosed that the radioactive source, which is a sensitive component of the machine, has already arrived at Entebbe International Airport.
Due the sensitivity of the source, the National Atomic Council has already worked out a plan of transporting the nuclear component to Kampala under tight security.
The government had initially promised to deliver and install the Cobalt 60 machine within six months after the old out broke down beyond repair. The deadline was moved to December 2016, shifted to February 2017, then back to April and May 2017.
Dr Orem explained that it has been an uphill task to fast track the procurement of the machine due to policy divergence and other factors like changes in the political and technical leadership at the Ministry of Health.
“At the beginning, we were planning to have the machine decommissioned early enough [but] we were told there was no money. We were [then] advised to live within our budget,” Dr Orem said as he explained the delays in restoration of radiotherapy services at UCI.
He added that lack of money compelled UCI to continue using the old machine until it broke down beyond repair.
“When the crisis came, the guns were turned onto the UCI but as the institute draw the plan on how things would be done. There was disagreement at the policy level with some people pushing that the machine be privately procured from China,” he said.
Uganda to host 2019 Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA) meeting
Uganda has been chosen to host the 36th Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA) council meeting in 2019. Information from the Ministry of Health shows that the meeting will be held between July 21 and 28, 2019.
This decision to have the meeting hosted by Uganda was taken during the 34th FIMA council meeting which took place in Istanbul, Turkey from July18 to 21.
The Federation of Islamic Medical Associations consists of Islamic Medical Associations from
41 countries and is expected to be expanded to include more countries, noted a statement from the health ministry.
FIMA was established in December 1981 by a group of Muslim Physicians and health professionals from Canada, US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, and United Kingdom, who met in Orlando, Florida in USA.
In March 1999, FIMA was incorporated in the State of Illinois, USA, as non-profit organization. The objectives of FIMA are:
to foster the unity and welfare of Muslim medical and health care professionals all over the world
to promote Islamic medical activities including health services, education and research through cooperation and coordination among member organizations
to promote understanding and application of Islamic principles in the field of medicine
to mobilize professional and economic resources in order to provide medical care and relief to affected areas and communities
to promote the exchange of medical information and technical data and expertise among member organizations.
The Islamic Medical Association of Uganda (IMAU), which was established in 1988, joined FIMA as a member in 1994.
The activities of FIMA are essentially the activities of member Islamic Medical Associations (IMAs).
FIMA has several projects spearheaded by member IMAs. They include:
FIMA Save Vision which does a lot of cataract surgery and eye operations to save people’s visions;
FIMA relief which sends relief to people affected by disasters;
FIMA Save Smile which does operations on people with a cleft lip and palate;
FIMA Save Dignity which does operations on fistulas that occur after difficult deliveries of babies
FIMA Addiction project which deals with addictions
FIMA HIV/AIDS Resource Centre which deals with HIV/AIDS issues
FIMA Islamic Biomedical ethics Resource Centre which deals with ethical issues in health care
FIMA Youth and Student activities project which helps students develop their life skills
FIMA Islamic Hospital Consortium which deals with Islamic hospitals issues
FIMA Consortium of Islamic Medical Colleges which deals with training of health professionals.
According to a press release, during the FIMA council meeting in Turkey, Prof. Ihsan Karaman, the Rector of Medeniyet University in Turkey was elected as the new President of FIMA.
Karaman is also the President of the International Federation of Green Crescent Societies (IFGCS). The Uganda Green Crescent Society is a member of IFGCS and it was launched on February 24, 2017 at a function presided over by health state minister for general duties Sarah Opendi who represented President Yoweri Museveni. Prof. Karaman attended the launch.
The FIMA HIV/AIDS Resource Centre is spearheaded by the Islamic Medical Association of Uganda. It was agreed in the meeting in Turkey that the 4th International Muslim Leaders
Consultation on HIV/AIDS will be held immediately after the FIMA Council meeting of July 2019 in Uganda.
The theme of the consultation will be “Inter-religious Cooperation to address current HIV/AIDS and Addiction issues”.
The goal of the consultation is to articulate a consensus position on strategies and modalities for implementation of inter-religious cooperation to address current HIV/AIDS and addiction issues.
The purpose of the consultation is to bring religious leaders, NGO leaders, government leaders and leaders in academia and science together as a “think tank” to share experiences and discuss issues and the way forward regarding inter-religious cooperation to address HIV/AIDS and addictions.
The first objective of the consultation is to articulate, analyze and reach a consensus position on the concept of inter-religious cooperation and how it can be transformed from theory to practice in addressing current HIV/AIDS and addiction issues.
The second objective is to share experiences, best practices and challenges in the use of religiosity to address current HIV/AIDS and addiction issues and also share experiences regarding inter-religious cooperation to increase the impact of work on these issues.
The third objective is to develop basic strategic and action plans to address current HIV/AIDS and addiction issues using inter-religious cooperation to reach communities and families more effectively.