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Free treatment reignites hope among Ugandan children suffering brain cancer

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As the world commemorates World Brain Cancer Day on Thursday, free treatment of children with brain tumors in Uganda is reigniting their hope.

Collins Ssemwanga, 7, is among hundreds of children who have benefitted from such free treatment under the Global Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence Program (Global HOPE) at Mulago National Referral Hospital, where he was diagnosed with brain cancer a year ago.

Victoria Mwebe, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Mulago, Uganda’s main hospital, told Xinhua that 131 children have received treatment since the Global HOPE program started four years ago.

“We have created patient-centered care in a friendly environment, with kind and helpful staff,” she said. “We follow up each child individually and understand their social circumstances and come up with treatment plans.”

Mwebe said they have partnered with communities to raise public awareness about child brain cancer.

“We cannot manage these patient children alone. We need community participation so that we give children with brain cancer in Uganda a chance to live,” she said.

Mwebe said donors provide funds and materials like nutritious food for the children as they undergo chemotherapy and transport families who cannot afford to visit the hospital frequently.

Anne Akullo, a pediatric oncologist at the Global HOPE, said the program, together with partners, is boosting the capacity of health personnel.

A two-year clinical pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship program has trained eight specialists and that 12 more are receiving training, she said. Enditem

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