"Uganda Cancer Institute" Launched The Patient Navigation Program

By Andrew Lwanga

"Uganda Cancer Institute" Launched The Patient Navigation Program

Cancer patients at the Uganda cancer institute (UCI) have been facing challenge's at the savice center point when it comes to save life. Although it has been the case for over decades, cancer institute upgraded to patient navigation program to assists patients to complete the needed treatment and break barriers to cancer treatment and management.  

"On Tuesday 9th March, professor Vinand Nantulya" launched the patient navigation program at the Uganda cancer institute Mulago.

His the board chair of UCI emphasized that the physical navigators will help the patients and their caregivers/takers to locate them where different services are before they started their treatment.

As the former director of Uganda Cancer Institute 'he' remembers how easy it was to go around the cancer institute which then served as lymphatic treatment center. 54 years later , Prof. Nantulya say's a lot has changed at Mulago and therefore it can be confusing to whoever is seeking treatment at this particular time.  

“Personally i need to be guided and honestly i don’t know what is where at time. I need to be guided. Although I worked here for years” he said. 

The services offered at the Uganda Cancer Institute are scattered at different parts pf Mulago hospital. However in order to ease the physical barriers, cancer patient physical navigators in form of personnel dressed in maroon uniform have been stationed at different parts of the Institute to help patients to save time.

The patient navigation program has existed for over thirty years in management of cancer in America and Canada and it aimed at helping penitents and their caregivers who face personal and systematic barriers to access fully treatment. 

Our neighboring country Kenya at Kenyatta national hospital at a smaller scale comapred to what Uganda has. Uganda becomes the second country in Africa to include the cancer patient navigation program
Currently in Uganda physical barriers like patient’s lack of knowledge about the physical locations of different parts of the cancer institute has been identified as one of the barriers to access to cancer services. 

The head of cancer patient Navigation Program, Amos Obote said apart from the physical barriers, cancer patients face other barriers not connected to the services offered at Uganda Cancer Institute. 

He said on several occasions patents have not turned up for treatment or routine examinations because they lack of transport from their home districts.

"It's common for patients to travel with relatives and caregivers to Kampala only to face hardship with accommodation. In order to address and another component of the Patient Navigation Program is the resource navigators" Said Obote adding that those should help patients in need to source for resources outside cancer institute to enable patients to go through their specific challenges. 

Jennifer Nabaasa is one of the resource navigators. She has seen patients undergo lots of challenges while seeking for services because most of the services at Uganda Cancer Institute are still centralized.

Meanwhile the biggest outcry from the patients according to Nabaasa is the cost of transport especially for those that travel from districts located far from Kampala.
She reveals that resource mobilization team is about to enter an agreement with one of the bus companies on the West Nile route to transport the patients to Kampala and back home free. It is hoped that with this, the patients will not miss appointment time.

Paul Ebusu the executive director Uganda cancer society said that the component of the cancer patient navigation program is the deployment of clinical navigators. This team is mainly comprised of qualified nurses donning white with a blue apron.

"Clinical navigators, specialize in counseling and interviewing and in addressing the patient’s specific barriers to care of" Said Ebusu adding that it's not only to help in navigating the systems, but also provide health education, reminders, support and accompaniment. They act as advocates and resource connectors to ensure patients get the care.

Nabukalu Maureen is a Senior Assistant Nursing Officer and the lead clinical navigator at Uganda. She says so far, she has come to learn that the program yields better results if the patients gain trust of the knowledge an information impart by clinicians.

AObote Amos, the idea behind cancer patient navigator program is to eliminate barriers to cancer care in Uganda and other neighboring countries that depend on Uganda Cancer Institute for services care.

The patient navigator program at Uganda Cancer Institute is being funded by America Cancer Society in collaboration with Uganda cancer Society. 

For any comments or story please contact us at realmusisilwanga@gmail.com or send a watspp on +256702767744