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Beating cervical cancer: Survivors laud MTN Foundation, Rays of Hope Hospice for their support

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Bryan Mbasa, the Senior Manager MTN Uganda Foundation speaking during the handover ceremony.

Bryan Mbasa, the Senior Manager of MTN Foundation-Uganda

By Our Reporter 

MTN Foundation and Rays of Hope Hospice-Jinja (RHHJ) have supported women in Jinja district with screening and medical care to enable them defeat cervical cancer.

Rays of Hope Hospice is a non-governmental organization that provides palliative care to improve the quality of life for people with life-threatening illnesses and their families in Busoga region and the neighboring districts.

Sylvia Nakami, the executive director RHHJ revealed that the partnership between the hospital and MTN stemmed from a campaign that sought to increase cancer screening for women in rural areas.

According to Nakami, statistics indicate that only 5% of sexually active women in Uganda have screened for cervical cancer leaving 95% at risk of suffering from the disease.

“When we presented our proposal to MTN, they saw an opportunity to support our community that was in need and gave us UGX 20million to support the screening of the ladies, to create awareness and to treat those already suffering from cancer,” she explained.

Bryan Mbasa, the Senior Manager MTN Foundation says that the foundation prioritizes health as it is one of the most important aspects for human survival.

“A healthy society is the bedrock of a healthy economy. At MTN, we believe that we are only as good as the communities we serve, which is why it was prudent to ink a partnership that will save and greatly improve the lives of people in one of our communities in Jinja. Cancer is slowly becoming prevalent and as MTN Foundation, the goal is to support early testing and detection to enable combatting the disease before it escalates,” Mbasa said.

MTN Foundation in 2020 partnered with RHHJ through a cash donation of UGX 20million aimed at supporting the hospital in its goal of treating cervical cancer among the women of Jinja.

The hospital, according to survivors, has done a commendable job in ensuring women in Jinja receive free and quality treatment against the cancer.

Survivors’ tales

Estella Kiggo, not real name, is one of the survivors of cervical cancer at RHHJ which was clinically diagnosed in 2020.

The young woman who resides in Namayingo district says she was diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer at a clinic in Jinja, following severe abdominal pain, pungent discharge and severe pain around her reproductive organs.

“For about 2 years, I self-medicated because I treated it as a UTI. I took antibiotics and the pain subsided, but only momentarily. After a while, the pain became severe so I had to go for testing at a clinic in Namayingo,” she narrates.

While there, Kiggo recounts, the doctor found lesions of cancer around her reproductive organs which are the first possible indicators of cancerous cells.

“Upon finding the lesions, I was referred to Rays of Hope where they said I would get free and quality treatment,” she said.

The aspect of free medical care was important to Kiggo whose only job as a medical counselor in the area traded closely as a volunteering experience.

“The job I had was as good as volunteering because we were not paid. The only time we received some money was when the district local government through the health department periodically decided to award us with UGX 15,000/- in appreciation for the sensitization of the village members. So I did not have any money to fight the cancer from any medical facility. I wish to thank RHHJ and MTN Foundation because they are the reason I am still alive today,” she says.

It was not only Kiggo’s life, but also her marriage that was saved.

“Previously, engaging intimately with my husband came at a cost of severe pain and a lot of discomfort but now, our relations are better than ever,” she explained.

Just like Kiggo, 35-year old Norah Nyapendi, not real name, suffered the same ordeal.

In 2020, Nyapendi, a mother of five, was also diagnosed with cervical cancer. Similarly, Nyapendi was also referred to Rays of Hope.

“I was referred to two hospitals but why I chose Rays of Hope was because it was free. I am a farmer with an unstable income so I definitely could not afford treatment at a cost from any hospital,” she says.

Fortunately, Nyapendi received medical treatment which she says has since given her a second chance at life.

“When I got the diagnosis of cervical cancer, I got so scared. I thought I was going to die and leave my young children on earth to suffer. That is why I am extremely thankful to Rays of Hope and MTN Foundation for ensuring I got quality treatment at no cost thus saving my life,” she says.

Given a second chance at life, Nyapendi now plans to set up a business from which she will earn enough money to take care and educate her children through school.

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