By Flavia Nassaka
Out of 3,000 samples from patients seeking care at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) 298 tested positive for COVID-19 over a one year period. 20 of the samples were from children.
These were identified through an initiative that run for about a year that required everyone seeking cancer treatment to first undertake a COVID-19 PCR test .
Dr. Jackson Orem the director of the Uganda Cancer Institute says last year, during the initial lockdown, they had to transport patients back to their homes in order to decongest the facility that is often filled with patients from upcountry awaiting their next appointments, especially for radiology treatment.
But this did not happen this time thanks to the donation of personal protective gear from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre.
Dr Nixon Niyonzima, who heads Laboratory Services at the Institute told URN this morning that they have tested about 3,000 samples where those that tested positive were immediately referred to the Mulago Hospital COVID-19 treatment centre. Of the positive, he says, 20 were children.
Godfrey Osinde who heads the pharmacy division says their budget on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has gone up to ten times. They are now spending about 3 billion Shillings on protective gear alone, yet their total annual allocation has not increased in the face of the pandemic.
Osinde was speaking at a handover event where the Institute received a donation of PPE worth UGX 100 million Shillings from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research centre in addition to oxygen concentrators, thermometers, pulse oximeters and 3,000 SARS COV 2 PCR testing reagents.