Home Health Cancer Patients Spend an Average of Shs300,000 on a Single Visit at...

Cancer Patients Spend an Average of Shs300,000 on a Single Visit at UCI


To access Services on a single visit at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), patients spend between Shs200,000 and Shs800,000.

This was made by a revelation in a study that was conducted by Makerere University in collaboration with the Strengthening Institutional Capacity ffor Research Administration (SICRA) and UCI under the Mak-Rif program.

Conducted in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the study titled: Improverishing aamd Catastrophic Health Expenditure on Cancer Care among Persons affected by Cancer in Uganda, highlighted that patients from up country regions are the most affected.

“8 out of 10 among both male and female patients reported spending at least 10% of their household income on Cancer Care,” the Report reads in part.

“Cancer patients or households with patients are unable to solely meet costs associated with cancer care. Often they depend on family and friends’ suppor. However, the continuity of support coming through is not guaranteed throughout the patient’s time of sickness,”

According to the study which captured 423 respondents, 68% being female highlighted that majority of the Cancer patients (64%) were in stage one and two respectively.

“And this money does not include inpatient care, this is the money that is spent on buying missing drugs, imaging services, tests, Cancer care,” Dr. Allen Kabagenyi, the Principal Investigator said, during the Dissemination and Stakeholders Engagement at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI)

Dr. Kabagenyi said that unemployed patients who constitute to 86%, spend at least Shs300,000 whenever they visit.

“Overall, at least half of all cancer patients experienced catastrophic health expenditure on Cancer Care and treatment. 5 out of 10 patients spent at least 40% of their household income on Cancer health care,” she said.

Besides digging deep into their pockets to meet the cancer treatment costs, the report reveals that families often sell their household property like land, animals, homes among others, in order to raise money for treatment and any related care.

“The Shs300,000 is for only one visit but remember a cancer patient who is on stage one ands two has to visit every month, translating to Shs3.6 million a year,” Dr. Francis Kiweewa, the Director Strengthening Institutional Capacity ffor Research Administration (SICRA) said.

“As we wait for the passing and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, government need to come up with faster measures aimed at saving cancer patients,” he added.

Dr. Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of the UCI while reacting to the Report admitted the growing cancer burden, which he said can only be done through establishing regional Cancer management centres.

“Currently when you look at the statistics of the number of cancer patients we receive here, 15% are from this region and 85% from up country and what I can say is that we need to decentralize our services so that the these people will access the Services in their areas at their ease,” Dr. Orem said.

Speaking to this Newspaper, Dr. Nixon Niyonzima, the Head of Research at UCI said government should also work hard towards increasing household income so that the patients can have a financial muscles.

In Uganda, 32,000 new cases and 21,000 deaths caused by cancer were registered in 2018, according to the Globocan cancer statistics report of 2018.

The Report further revealed that 56,238 people were living with cancer by 2018 and the top seven cancers are; cervix, KS, breast, prostate, NHL, liver and esophageal – account for 70% of new cancer cases.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 30–50% of all cancers are avoidable by preventing or reducing exposure to cancer risk factors.

According to the study, patients suffering from Prostate and Colorectal Cancers were the most affected with between Shs400,000 and Shs800,000 expenditure per visit.

Prof. Yawe Bruno, Ag. Principal College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) noted that the study speaks to the objectives of goal 1 of Makerere University’s strategic planning framework for the 2020–2030 period, which seeks to enhance a research-led university.

He commended the team, saying that the study is timely especially when Uganda is registering rising mortality and morbidity related to cancer.

“Knowing the catastrophic health expenditure on cancer care is crucially important in order to design ways to provide financial protection against rising medical expenditure by households with cancer patients.”

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