The 3rd Uganda Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care

Together with the Uganda Cancer Institute, we held our virtual 3rd Uganda Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care on 23-24 September 2021. This year’s conference was held in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Uganda Broadcasting Cooperation. The theme was “Cancer and Palliative Care in COVID-19 and other challenging situations”. We would like to thank every one of our delegates, speakers and partners who made it a truly special one.

While our conferences have always targeted bringing delegates to a central place which was not possible this year given the current situation, we felt that it was important for us to have satellite facilities set up in the different regions around the country to enable upcountry delegates to be part of the event, which is exactly what we achieved.

A special thank you also goes to all our fantastic speakers, panelists and session chairs as well as delegates from around the world who despite the time difference, were more than happy to get involved!

We were so pleased to be able to offer 2 days of an innovative and topical educational program to delegates from around the globe virtually which made the conference extremely successful and well received.

First was a panel discussion that discussed cancer and palliative care in COVID-19 and other challenging situations in Uganda: experiences, observations, lessons and recommendations for future emergencies held Monday, 16 November. The panel discussed different sub topics with moderator Josephine Karungi, a communications specialist. The panelists included Lt Col. Dr. Kyobe Bbosa the National COVID-19 Incident Commander, Dr. Agasha Doreen Birungi the Chief Executive Director of Hospice Africa Uganda, Dr. Abrahams Omoding an Oncologist at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Rose Kiwanuka a Palliative Care Nurse Specialist and Dr. Victoria Walusansa the Deputy Executive Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute.

The first plenary session was held Friday, 24th September and was focused on health systems strengthening, financing, access to pain relief medicines, education, collaboration, nursing now and the available opportunities. This session was chaired by Dr. Jackson Amone the Commissioner Clinical Services at the Ministry of Health and Dr. Andrew Ocero the Deputy Chief of Party Health Systems Strengthening and policy Advisor at University Research Company. Speakers included Dr. Ayume Charles a Member of Parliament and Chair of the Committee of Health in the Parliament of Uganda, Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika, Executive Director of the African Palliative Care Association, Dr. Joyce Balagadde, Head of Pediatric Oncology at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Meg O’Brien, Ph.D, Vice President Global Cancer Treatment, Dr. Nixon Niyonziima, Head of Laboratory Research and Training at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Cyndy Searfoss, Director of Partnerships at Global Partners in Care, Prof. Dr. Anne Merriman, Founder of Hospice Africa Uganda, Aggrey David Kibenge, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and Sr. Beatrice Amuge, Commissioner in charge of Nursing at the Ministry of Health.

The second plenary session was still held on Friday, 24th September. This session focused on the reflections on universal access to Cancer and Palliative Care services in Uganda and was moderated by Fatia Kiyange a Board Member of the Uganda Cancer Institute. It featured a panel discussion where panelists included Prof. Charles Olweny the Board of Governors Chair at the Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr. Henry Ddungu the Board Chair of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda, Dr. Jackson Orem the Executive Director of Uganda Cancer Institute and Mark Donald Mwesiga the Country Director of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda. This session concluded the conference with awarding the best oral presenter and a brief highlight of the conference done by Prof. Julia Downing Head of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network.

The PCAU and UCI Recognition Awards 2021 were announced at the conference opening ceremony. The PCAU individual award went to Sr. Catherine Nakasita and the institutional award went to Joy Hospice Mbale. The UCI individual award went to Mr. Matovu Wasswa and the Institutional award went to DFCU Bank.

Two workshops were held. One on integrating pain management into routine service care delivery at hospitals in Uganda chaired by Dr. Neville Oteba Commissioner Department of Pharmaceuticals and Natural Medicines at Ministry of Health and Rinty Kintu the National Coordinator American Cancer Society. The second workshop was on Improving national data on palliative care services in Uganda and was chaired by Lacey Ahern a Faculty Member at the University of Notre Dame Eck Institute of Global Health and Dr. Miriam Ajambo a Senior Medical Officer and Palliative Care Focal Person at the Ministry of Health.

Additional information on the conference will be found in the conference report which will be published soon. We will also release all recordings of the different conference sessions which will be available for free to all on our website.

Special thanks to the co-chairs of the different committees for your leadership and support. In the meantime, from each of us at PCAU & UCI, stay safe and see you all soon.

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