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HEALTH: Uganda Cancer Institute, UCC set up toll-free line to address knowledge gap in cancer management

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KAMPALA — Uganda Communications Commission and Uganda Cancer Institute have partnered to provide outreach services and cancer related information to patients and the general public.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2019, establishing an Interactive Voice Responsive System (IVR) at Mulago National Referral Hospital, where the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is based.

Under the memorandum of understanding, UCC supported UCI “to establish, develop, implement, and study the existence and impact of an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR)” in a bid to harness ICTs to improve cancer care provision.

The project seeks to achieve “effective and efficient provision of cancer information to patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute and/or their caregivers and the general public in Uganda.”

Patients and members of the public seeking information on cancer can get help by simply making a toll-free telephone call on 0800 100 800. The line is also being used to provide accurate information on COVID-19.

UCC, working through the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), financed the project which is being implemented in three phases.

Under Phase I, UCI set up the IVR system with cancer related messages in English and Luganda. The system is now open to the public as the implementation team continues to collect feedback to improve it.

Phase II involves improvement of the current content (in English and Luganda) and developing content in four other languages – Swahili, Acholi, Gishu and Runyankore/Rukiga, as well as adding more services, including SMS.

On the other hand, Phase III is expected to scale up the achievements of the first two phases by setting up a system that integrates the IVR/call centre with a customer relations and electronic medical records system.

According to the terms and conditions of the three-year MoU, UCC is to monitor and evaluate the project, while UCI will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facility.

In accordance with Section 3 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission is mandated to enhance national coverage of communications services, connectivity and universal access to communications services in un-served and underserved areas.

The Commission’s intervention is motivated by the need to provide technical support to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) to put their content online.

The Commission also aims to support initiatives that seek to address technology literacy and the presentation of content in a way that addresses access and utility barriers owing to gender, language, illiteracy or physical inability.

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