Cancer X ray

What to know as Northern Uganda Cancer Institute starts partial operations 

(Last Updated On: 11 November 2023)

Gulu I Northern Uganda Regional Cancer Institute has organized a one-week surgical camp to operate on patients who are suffering from cancer of the head and neck. The camp started on November 8, 2023.

Authorities say the camp will be happening twice a year in a bid to improve services and the expertise of medical staff on cancer cases, management and monitoring.

The intervention is in line with the vision of the multi-billion regional cancer institute under construction in Koro, Gulu City. The shs 34.5 billion facility is funded by the Austrian government.

Dr. Chad Zafar from the University of Cincinnati, USA, disclosed that the major risk factors driving cancer cases in the region (and Uganda) are smoking, alcoholism, bad feeding; culture habits and food contamination arising from agrochemicals being used in food production.

Dr.  Zafar further explained that though there are other underlying factors including Hepatitis B infections and HIV infections in the region, the consumption of chemicals in food has exposed the consumers to a high risk of getting cancer.

“Also, cancer is caused by unprotected sex, so we need to protect ourselves, but the serious issue is about the use of agrochemicals in food which we need to regulate.

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He also revealed that each patient who undergoes an operation will pay $50,000-100,000, according to the level of operations.

The Northern Uganda Regional Cancer Institute has started operation with the diagnosis of patients, screening, and treatments as the construction of the facility stands at 20 per cent to completion and was launched on Friday, August 13, 2021, by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.

With an increasing number of patients grappling with limited access to cancer treatment, the facility is now partially opened to respond to the emerging health complications in the region.

Dr. Latim Ivan is a medical officer who doubles as the in-charge at the facility. He confirmed that over 126 cancer patients were enrolled in the last three months for treatment since the facility opened in July 2023.

“We were forced to open this centre before the construction was completed to save those we could lose their lives because they can’t afford to travel to the National Cancer Institute,” Dr. Latim said.

He revealed that the operated patients, he or she is most likely to spend some days at the facility depending on the conditions of the case and recovery rate.

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The regional cancer institute has two ultrasound machines already installed, radiology, Computed Tomography (CT-Scan) and imaging centre. It is a 54-bed capacity facility with 6 intensive care units, an X-ray room and a private wing.

Currently, over 19 medical staff members are managing the facility with integrated digital operations in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of patients.


Dr. Jeff Otiti is a consultant and head of surgery at the Uganda Cancer Institute. He said, “We need to provide real-time treatment and to have a digitally linked Center to the National Centre where patients shall be monitored jointly with specialists from both sides for a mixture of complex cases together.”

Dr. Otiti disclosed that the theatres are not fully functional; appreciating the ongoing medical camps which he added will identify the missing gaps. “We are doing sampling exercises to identify the problems and improve them.”

The country had 32,000 annual cancer cases in 2022 and loses about 21,000 cancer patients every year, according to the Global Cancer Observatory.

Winni Anek is the mother of Amarorwot Isabell who is battling cancer of the neck. She told tndNews that her baby started experiencing it in October 2023. When I was bathing her, I found something on her neck and later took her to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital for checking and treatment.

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“She went through different scans and was diagnosed by the Doctor who promised to do an operation on her at the beginning of this month (November). But on November 3, 2023, the Doctor referred us to Northern Uganda Cancer Institute where there is a surgical camp. I registered her for checkups on Wednesday,” said the mother of the teenager.

The baby was admitted for an operation. “I will be very happy when the exercises are done,” added the mother.

Beatrice Amony is another patient undergoing treatment at the new facility, a year after she was diagnosed with cancer.

“I have been going to private clinics because I couldn’t find treatment in the government health facilities around. Each time they would ask me for shs200, 000 which I couldn’t afford,” she disclosed.

According to the 2020 record from Gulu Cancer Registry, more than 1, 320 people in the four districts of Gulu, Amuru, Omoro, and Nwoya were diagnosed with cancers.

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