KAMPALA: The Ministry of Health has dismissed claims that the Cobalt 60 Radiotherapy machine at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is no longer functional, arguing that the operations of the machine have been scaled down in preparation for its first periodic servicing which is scheduled for next week.
According to Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Acting Director General Health Services, the new machine is a high-level and ultra-modern machine and was accepted by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Institute for Clinical Use in October 2017 and cannot break down that fast.
Dr Mwebesa explained that since the installation of the machine in November 2017, it has treated over 1000 patients and hence needs servicing.
“Approximately 1000 patients have been treated since the restoration of radiotherapy services at UCI last November, and about 15,000 treatment sessions had been done by the end of May 2018. Consequently, the department now works in two shifts; the first: From 5.00 AM to 1.30 PM, while the second runs from 1.30 PM to 10.30 PM,” he said in a statement released on Sunday.
“The designated technician from the machine manufacturer (UJP-Praha), Mr Bednar Andrej has been contacted and is expected to arrive in the country on Thursday 7th June 2018 to undertake the servicing of the machine which will commence on Friday 8th and run through the weekend of 9th -10th June 2018. Normal full capacity operation of radiotherapy services is expected to resume on Monday 11th June 2018,” he added.
Dr Mwebesa explained that Government of Uganda has supported training of three Radiotherapy Technicians, who are currently training in Zambia and are expected to back in the country in March 2019.
“The construction of additional modern bunkers with six chambers -which will house four linear accelerator radiotherapy machines- has also reached a level of 95% progress and this is intended to fast track the next phase of modernization and expansion of radiotherapy services,” he said.