Radiotherapy machine to be fixed by local engineers


Operations of the machine were temporarily suspended following a technical problem last week


Local engineers have been lined up to fix the technical breakdown in the functionality of the radiotherapy machine at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).

On Thursday last week, the operations of the machine were temporarily suspended following a technical problem which needed expertise to fix.

In a phone interview, Dr Jackson Orem, the director of UCI, said at the moment there is no need to bring in an engineer to come from abroad to fix the problem as earlier communicated.

“A cable needed has been dispatched by DHL. Our engineers will do the rest once it arrives. No need at this time for an engineer to come from abroad,” Orem revealed.

Radiotherapy is a treatment involving the use of high energy radiation to treat cancer. Almost half of all people with cancer have radiotherapy as part of their treatment plan.

Last week, Orem said there were about fifty patients scheduled to receive treatment.

“Given that the machine handles over 150 patients per day, the current number on waiting list will be handled in one day once the machine resumes normal operations,” he added.

Orem further said the linear accelerator and another radiotherapy machine from India are expected to arrive in the country in about four months’ time.  He added that the two new machines are expected to supplement the current radiotherapy machine to avoid any treatment disruption.

The incidence of cancer in Uganda, especially for breast and prostate cancer is said to have increased in the last decade by 3.7% and 5.2% respectively annually.

Every year, the institute which was granted autonomous status in 2014 receives over 4,500 new cancer cases. Of these, 400 are reported among children and cumulatively, it registers between 4000-5000 patient visits every year.

UCI offers super specialised services in areas of cancer treatment, research and prevention. It was recently upgraded to an East African treatment reference centre treating patients from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC.

Speaking at a press conference recently, Dr Noleb Mugisha, the head of the community cancer programme, commended the Indian Women Association for organising medical camps where very many people especially women come up to screen for breast and cervical cancer.

In the recent camp organised in Owino market by UCI in partnership with the association, Mugisha said six women were detected to have cancer of the cervix and were put on treatment.  

Suman Venkatesh, the chairperson of the Indian Women Association, said they intend to organise more medical camps next year so that majority of women screen for cancers.

Experts say cancer cases are no longer in any specific age group, adding that women of all ages are being diagnosed with cancer and all they need is early treatment because it can be cured.

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