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Govt moves to procure new Shs13b cancer machine

Co-directors of the Fred Hutch – UCI collaboration Dr. Corey Casper, left, and Dr. Jackson Orem (Credit: UCI)

KAMPALA – The executive director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Jackson Orem, has announced that they are in the final stages of acquiring another cancer machine at a cost of $3.5m (about Shs13.3billion).

According to Dr Orem, the machine, which will be installed before December, has been procured with funding from the African Development Bank.

He said the new machine is expected to supplement the Cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, which was installed last year.

Dr Orem said Varian Medical Systems, a US company, has been contracted to buy and install the hi-tech cancer machine, which will be housed in one of the six bunkers whose construction is nearing completion.

“A team from Varian Medical System was here on Monday to inspect the bunker where the machine is to be installed,” he added.

He made the remarks on Monday while meeting a visiting delegation from Malawi led by Chief of Health Services, Dr Charles Mwansambo.

The cancer machine at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI)(FILE PHOTO)

The news comes as relief to cancer patients who have suffered inconveniences of having to shut down the current machine for servicing.

Hardly six months after the current cancer machine was installed, it shut down operations early this month to undergo routine servicing.

However, Dr Daniel Kanyike, the head of radiotherapy at the cancer institute, said the new machine is expected troy boost cancer treatment since it has adjustable voltage and generates its own radiation that delivers high-energy x-rays to the patient’s tumor unlike the current machine.

Dr. Daniel Kanyike (in white overcoat), head of the radiotherapy department at the Uganda Cancer Institute shares some insights with guests at the facility recently (Credit: UCI)

Uganda’s only radiotherapy machine was replaced in December 2017, nearly two years after the previous one broke down, giving hope to cancer patients who had been denied a crucial tool against the disease.

The failure of the old machine in March 2016 caused a public outcry and was seen as symbolising the deterioration of Uganda’s medical services.

Since the installation of the machine in November 2017, it has treated over 1,000 patients and hence needed servicing.

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