Condolence messages have started trickling in following the shocking demise of Nation Television’s former news reader Rosemary Nankabirwa.
NTV’s News Manager Maurice Mugisha posted, “I’m lost for words… She was full of life, charming, welcoming, extremely confident, she was a broadcast gem! What a SAD day!”
BBC presenter Allan Kasujja also grieved, “Rosemary came to check on me at work a couple of years ago, I didn’t think it’d be our last meeting. Kitalo nnyo”
The news of her death reached Uganda Sunday evening from the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi where she had just been transferred for treatment.
She succumbed to Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma, a rare but deadly cancer ailment which affects development of hormones in the body.
NTV’s MD Aggie Asiimwe Kkonde announced, 4:19 PM, “It is with utmost sadness that we announce the demise of our former staff Rosemary who has succumbed to cancer in Aga Khan Hospital; Updates shortly”
NTV sternly disregarded as rumors, earlier social media reports about the death: “Until you have an official statement from NTV, please refrain from spreading the rumour. We ask that you instead keep her in your prayers.”
Nankabirwa’s demise comes less than two weeks, after UBC’s celebrated newsreader Bbale Francis succumbed to the same ailment.
Both died moments after funds had been solicited from the public to facilitate their medical operations outside countries.
Subsequently, some displeased Ugandans have taken to social media, to express discontent with the fact that most of cancer treatment in the country has to be sourced from abroad.
“It saddens to have many Ugandans rushed to Nairobi for “Better treatment” only to be pronounced dead in less than a week. You know them all!” retorted one Maurine Agena.
Uganda has a one cancer unit at the Mulago Referral Hospital that is appallingly outstripped according to Head of the Mulago cancer Institute Dr. Fred Okuku.
Jinja Hospital, the country’s second biggest public health facility has no cancer unit but admits dozens of cancer patients every week.
Social media commentators insist that Ugandans can no longer afford having to take long flights and spend millions of shillings to get cancer treatment.
“My blame on government is making an airline and foreign hospitals our destinations. You have had a patient, an air journey itself is bad enough… What can Aga Khan afford that the Republic of Uganda cannot?” wondered another.
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday contributed Shs 5 million to the car wash campaign geared to raising Shs 100 million for Nankabirwas’ operation.
Critics however, hold that a government ought to start serious investment in the health sector.
Yet according to the recently released National Budget Framework for the Financial Year 2015/16, government instead plans to reduce the health budget by Shs 317.4 billion.
Meanwhile, some calls have also emerged over social media that the amount of money collected yesterday for Nankabirwa’s treatment should be re-channeled to erecting an Intensive Care Unit at the Mulago Cancer Institute in Mulago.