By Juliet Hildah N.
The East African Development Bank in partnership with the British Council and the Royal College of Physicians (as the technical partner) yesterday 29th November, 2017 concluded yet another medical training of selected medical practitioners from different districts in Western Uganda.
The East African Development Bank’s Medical Training and Fellowship Programme (METAF) is an EADB initiative to build capacity in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the fields of neurology and oncology. EADB’s aim is to train 600 medical professionals within a period of four years, to specialize in the treatment of cancer and neurological disorders. This is because there is less awareness in these areas among doctors which leads to late cancer detection.
EADB’s mission is to promote sustainable social-economic development in East Africa by providing development finance support and advisory services. Through the Medical Training and Fellowship (METAF) Programme, EADB aims to increase capacity towards early detection, research and access to treatment of cancer and neurological disorders by increasing the number, quality and deployment of medical doctors in public service with specialty training in the treatment cancer and neurological disorders of in the East Africa region, especially in communities and areas where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.
This is the fourth training taking place in Uganda. It follows similar trainings that were held St. Francis Hospital, Nsambya, at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago in 2016 and in Soroti earlier this year. Other trainings have also taken place in Kenya and Tanzania and more trainings are underway.
There has been a recorded increase in the number of cancer patients in the region, and close to 80% of these patients find out when the cancer is in its late stages. Dr. Abrahams Omoding, a Specialist Medical Oncologist with the Uganda Cancer Institute and also one of the programme trainers says that Cancer now kills more people than HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.
According to the 2016 WHO report, cancer is the third leading cause of death in Kenya (7% of all deaths), with Rwanda at (7%), Tanzania (5%) and Uganda (5%). In Kenya neurological diseases comprise a significant percentage of inpatient hospitalizations.
Although the signs and symptoms of the disease are still not well-known in many communities, there have been tremendous efforts to sensitize people and train medical practitioners in early identification of cancer cases.
The programme continues to focus on early detection, research and treatment of cancer and neurological disorders especially in communities where access to qualified professionals remains a challenge.
“This course is key in down staying late cancer detection. By training the doctors on the most important information on the signs and symptoms of cancer, we shall improve the ability to identify cancers at an early stage.” said Dr. Omoding.
Ms. Vivienne Yeda, the Director General of EADB reiterates that EADB’s course objective is to upgrade the ability of the target group of physicians to be able to better manage the patients with common neurological disorders.
“We are receiving positive feedback from the doctors who have so far taken part in the trainings. Through these doctors, we are surely having an impact. The fight against cancer should be taken up by all of us and as EADB we shall continue to train doctors until we meet our target of training 600 medical practitioners in four years.” Ms. Vivienne Yeda added.
Doctors who attended the medical training programme in Mbarara were in agreement for an increased need of such trainings across the region.
“I have learnt a lot of new things and through this training, I will now be able to look at medical cases from a different aspect so as I can be able to diagnose my patients with utmost surety.” said one of the doctors that took part in the training.
“This has been a wakeup call for us the doctors to act vigilant and fight cancer in its early stages,” he added.
The number of cancer cases worldwide is expected to surge by 57% during the next two decades according to WHO Cancer Research. Developing countries are to bear most of the increase. More than 60% of the cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America, and these account for about 70 per cent of the world’s cancer death. While the prevalence is still low in SSA by global standards, it is soaring in most countries. In Kenya for example, cancer ranks third as a cause of death. It is estimated that about 50 Kenyans die daily from various forms of cancers. 80-90% of the cases arrive in hospital when it is too late. The trend is common across East Africa and it is associated with lack of treatment facilities and expertise for treatment, prevention and early detection.