HOW STRONG RELATIONSHIPS HAVE SUSTAINED CANCER RUN’S 12-YEAR JOURNEY.
The recent cancer run was attended by over 40,000 runners in 40 different locations in Uganda and in different cities all over the world, raising over shillings billion towards the construction of bunkers that will house 2 LINAC cancer testing and treatment machines at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya.
In the time it has taken to reach such milestones, a lot of hard work, perseverance, and a valiant collaborative effort between Rotary Uganda and its various partners has gone into shaping the cause into one of the biggest charity events in Uganda. It has not always been like this, however.
In 2012, the organizers of the first cancer run when tasked with raising upwards of 1 billion shillings to carry out the ambitious construction of a cancer ward at Nsambya Hospital and managed to attract only 8,000 runners, raising UGX 200m in the process.
Behind executing this daunting task was the then District Governor, Stephen Mwanje who had to use his past experience in banking and academia to rally for corporate sponsorship to help them raise the balance of the fee needed to execute the project.
After knocking on various doors for help, Mwanje’s prayers were finally answered. Centenary Bank jumped ahead of the queue to commit itself as the first partner to the cause with a generous contribution of UGX 100 million.
“Our relationship with Centenary Bank is very pivotal to how far the cancer run has come. They were the first sponsors we got on board to fund this initiative and it was with their support that we managed to organize the first cancer run” says Mwanje.
Upon Centenary Bank’s commitment to the cause, Mwanje managed to win over a number of the various corporate CEOs that he had been courting for sponsorships months prior to coming on board. Soon, Crown Beverages Limited donated Ushs 50 million, while the National Housing and Construction Company decided to roof the structure where the ward would be constructed.
The idea behind the cancer run was to construct a Centre of excellence that would provide the vital early detection and cure of cancer, pre and post-treatment care. This vision was partly realized on 7th July 2015 when Rotary handed over the completed cancer ward to Nsambya Hospital who run it to date.
Twelve years down the road, Centenary Bank remains a strong sponsor to have stuck with the cause from its inception.
“We as Centenary Bank are always proud to contribute to worthy causes like the cancer run that addresses health. We all know that health is wealth. We want to make sure that our contribution goes a long way in keeping many Ugandans healthy. And since cancer is one of those diseases that has caused pain and suffering to many people, we as Centenary Bank decided to join our friends at Rotary Uganda to fight this scourge,” Fabian Kasi, the Managing Director at Centenary Bank said recently at a cancer run event.
CANCER AND ITS HOLD ON UGANDANS
A collective effort is needed if Ugandans are to fight a disease that is slowly creeping its way into the lives of many Ugandans.
According to the Uganda Cancer Institute, an estimated 33,000 people are affected by cancer each year of which only about 7,400 make it for care at the Uganda Cancer Institute.
A lot of the rhetoric around this year’s cancer theme; Run for Hope has been about sensitizing Ugandans to go for cancer screening so as to aid early detection as a preventive measure. This according to Dennis Okwir, the head of medicine at the cancer-run foundation, is the driving force behind the drive to bring more sponsors on board to raise funds for better management of the scourge.
“Most Ugandans are priced out of seeking for cancer treatment because they imagine it is very expensive and yet if they detected the disease early, they would be able to treat it at a relatively affordable cost,” Okwir emphasizes.
Further data reveals that 80% of the cancer patients registered at UCI present with late-stage disease (stages 3 and 4) which significantly affects cancer survival. Uganda has 33,000 new cancer cases every year but loses 21,300 cancer patients every year which is 60% of all new cases. This only means that more resources are needed if cancer treatment centers are to start springing up all over Uganda. This year, the cancer run attracted sponsorship from over six corporate sponsors and that list needs to grow if the targets set by all stakeholders are to be achieved.