On Thursday, staff and students from the School of Psychology, joined by Uganda Cranes Coach, Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic, and one of their prominent alumni, Moses Radio of Goodlyfe Crew, marched to the Uganda Cancer Institute to express solidarity with cancer patients and to raise awareness about the disease. They were flagged off by the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira. The Walk was part of the activities organized to celebrate the Psychology Week that started on 27th April and will end on 30th. The Psychology Week is an annual event organized by the School of Psychology, Makerere University to raise awareness about various psychological issues. This year, the Week is being celebrated under the theme “Psychology and Public Health”, with specific focus on The Role of Psychology in the Fight against Cancer in Uganda.
Addressing participants, the Chief Walker, Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, who represented the Vice Chancellor, cited behaviour as the leading cause cancer. “Research evidence clearly shows that our behavior has a central role to play in cancer control and therefore any effort in the fight against cancer should be multipronged in order to take into account social, psychological as well as spiritual perspectives underlying cancer risk, prevention and management,” he said. He called for increased collaborations in crafting a multi-disciplinary research agenda aimed at enhancing interventions to reduce the cancer risk. Prof. Bashaasha is the Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
At the Uganda Cancer Institute, the Director, Dr Jackson Orem, briefed participants about the dangers of cancer, prevention and treatment. He re-emphasized the importance of early screening noting that cancer detected in its final stage can hardly be treated. He appealed for concerted efforts in fighting the disease. The Uganda Cancer Institute in collaboration with Marie Stopes Uganda and the School of Psychology is screening for prostate, breast and cervical cancer at Shs5,000. The activity is taking place at the Institute and the School of Psychology.
The Walk was preceded with a workshop held in the University Main Hall in which various specialists including staff from the School of Psychology delivered presentations on various issues surrounding cancer. Papers presented included, Cancer from a Medical Perspective; Mindset of Cancer Patients; Cancer Pain Management Dilemma: The Need for a Biopsychosocial Approach; Psychology and Palliative Care; Psychology and Mental Health Promotion; Bereavement and Care for the Dying; Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventive Therapy; and Behavioural Approach to Cancer Prevention.
The Director Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Jackson Orem gave a keynote address on the characteristics, manifestations and current advances in the cure of Cancer.
During the workshop, the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Kirumira, called for increased outreach programmes noting that the most important promotion is measured by how relevant you are to the outside community. He underscored the need to engage partners in training students for a more practical learning experience.
The Dean, School of Psychology, Dr Julius Kikooma, reiterated the importance of behavioural change in preventing cancer. Globally, the cancer burden is on the increase, especially in low and middle income countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there will be 13.2 million cancer-related deaths every year, by 2030. Uganda currently has 44,000 recorded cases of cancer, according to reports from the Uganda Cancer Institute. Over the past two years, the issue of cancer related suffering, disability and death has taken centre stage in the Ugandan media. Almost every sector in Uganda has reported a cancer related death; families, media, the entertainment industry and most recently the sports fraternity. Untold suffering for affected individuals and their families is increasing amidst lack of awareness about the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.
Dr Kikooma said the School of Psychology in collaboration with the Uganda Cancer Institute would embark on a campaign to sensitize Ugandans on Cancer.
Other activities to mark the Psychology Week will include a football match between staff and students of Psychology and a team from FUFA led by Uganda Cranes Coach, Micho; blood donation and alumni and stakeholders dinner and dialogue on strategies to increase the public’s appreciation and access to psychological services.