The Ministry of Health has come out to refute media reports that the Cobalt 60 Radiotherapy machine at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is no longer functional.
“We would like to inform the public that the Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy machine has not broken down and is fully functional,” the Acting Director of Health Services, Dr. Henry G. Mwebesa said in a June 3, media statement.
The machine was imported into the country in August last year at a cost of over Shs3.015 billion ($815,000) and installed at Mulago Hospital in January this year.
Mwebesa said the operations of the machine have been scaled down in preparation for its first periodic servicing which is scheduled for this week, adding that the machine was still under warranty, meaning servicing is to be done for free by the manufacturer.
“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 2018to 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 said.
He said: “Due to the big number of patients that required the services, the number of patients treated per day drastically increased from about 10 patients upon re-establishment of the service in November and December 2017 to 150 patients per day by the end of March 2018. This has remained the current average number treated per day, with the exception of the emergency cases.”
He said since the installation of the machine, the number of treatment sessions rose from about 20 to over 300 per day and that about 1000 patients have been treated since the restoration of radiotherapy services at UCI last November. “About 15,000 treatment sessions had been done by the end of May 2018,” he said.
Meanwhile he said government has funded the training of three Radiotherapy technicians, who are currently training in Zambia and are expected to back in the country in March next year.
“The construction of additional modern bunkers with six chambers -which will house four linear accelerator radiotherapy machines- has also reached a level of 95 per cent progress and this is intended to fast track the next phase of modernization and expansion of radiotherapy services,” he said.
He said 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.”