Rotarians to build accommodation facilities for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

Members of Rotary Club Kigali-Virunga listen to Jwala Kumar as he leads the auction of a RwandAir ticket during a fundraising event for the construction of a transit accommodation facility for cancer patients in Rwanda, at Kigali Serena Hotel yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Over the weekend, Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga, a member club of Rotary International and one of the oldest Rotary clubs in Rwanda, held a fundraiser to build a transit accommodation facility for cancer patients that are undergoing radiotherapy treatment at the Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH).

Rotary International is an international organisation that brings together business and other professional leaders to provide humanitarian services across the world.

RMH introduced radiotherapy treatment last year, and since then, over 70 patients have been treated.

95 percent of these came from outside Kigali, and since they were not so sick to be admitted, they had to report to the hospital from their respective homes from Monday to Friday, according to Dr Pacifique Mugenzi an oncologist from RMH.

According to Mugenzi, there was need for a transit centre in Kigali where the patients would rest and be able to commute to hospital during the treatment.

According to Saudah Nalule, the outgoing president of the club, the transit centre needs about Rwf15 million to be established and all the money was raised during the fundraising dinner held in Kigali.

“We hope the centre will be ready in about three months,” she said.

The facility will be able to accommodate about 30 to 50 patients at any given time.

“This is just the beginning of the many efforts towards our cancer project. The fight against cancer is huge and we are taking it in bits. This is the start but there is yet more to come,” she said.

Dr Mugenzi said that the shortest radiotherapy treatment is about a week and the longest is about eight weeks, and a break in the process would compromise the outcomes of the procedure, a fact that calls for a smoother process of reporting to the hospital is necessary that the patients would not miss their treatment.

“It is often that you find yourself discussing with a patient not about the modalities of the treatment; but the details surrounding it, the main one being accommodation,” he said.

Radiotherapy or radiation therapy, often abbreviated as RT, RTx, or XRT, is therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells.

To date, there are three known treatment options for cancer: chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. All the three options are available in Rwanda.

Statistics show that in 2018, 10,704 new cases of cancer and 7,662 cancer related deaths were registered in Rwanda.

The survival rate of patients diagnosed with cancers is appallingly low in the developing world, including Rwanda.

In 2018, 18.1 million new cases of cancer were reported worldwide, and this number is expected to reach 24.6 million by 2030.