Renowned mental health and anti-smoking advocate, Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi has died.
Dr Ndyanabangi is reported to have died on Saturday morning at Mulago hospital Intensive Care Unit after battling cancer for close to two years. She died at age 62.
She has been working with the Ministry of Health the Principal Medical Officer, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Control/Tobacco Control.
The Minister for Health, Dr Ruth Aceng said she was saddened by the demise of Dr Ndyanabangi.
“Iam deeply saddened by the demise of our own Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi,” the Minister tweeted Saturday.
According to Dr Aceng, Dr. Ndyanabangi was instrumental in the passing of the tobacco control law as well as raising awareness on mental health in Uganda.
“Her works will never be forgotten. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” she said.
Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health similarly said that the deceased’s works would be missed.
“I am deeply sadened by the passing on of Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi. I am comforted to know that where she is, there is no pain and no crying. You rested from the pain you had. May our Father welcome you in eternity Sheila. We shall miss u but remember your works,” Dr Atwine said on Twitter.
Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi suffered endometrial (uterus) cancer in October of 2016 and a subsequent surgery saw her uterus removed.
At the launch of the East Africa Gynaecologic-Oncology fellowship training at Protea Hotel in Kampala in July last year, she told participants that she woke up one morning and felt as if something heavy pushed inside her stomach.
“It is something a person can ignore and think it is due to too much gas in the stomach due to food,” Ndyanabangi said at the time.
Upon undergoing a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan which reveals details of cancerous cells in any part of the body, she discovered that the layer covering her uterus was abnormal.
Later, doctors told her there was a problem in her uterus and if the layer continued to grow thicker, it could develop into cancer. Tests that followed confirmed she indeed had cancer.
Dr Ndyanabangi will be remembered mostly for her leading role in the push for the enactment into law of the Tobacco Control Act in 2015 after several years of intense lobbying. She was the National Focal Person for Tobacco Control at the Ministry of Health.
Her argument was centred on the fact that tobacco had no benefit other than straining the health system. She said that given the threat (including death) that tobacco poses on the users, there was a strong need to make it extremely hard for one to find or smoke a cigarette.
Ndyanabangi said most patients diagnosed with lung cancer, cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus at the Cancer Institute had a history of smoking.
There will be a funeral service for Dr Ndyanabangi at All Saints’ Cathedral Kampala, on Monday, August 27 at 9am, where she was formerly a People’s Warden.