Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There was a slowdown of radiotherapy services at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) on Wednesday creating panic among patients that the machines could have broken down, once again.
While URN later learnt from the administrators that the newly acquired TrueBeam linear accelerator was down for servicing, a patient who requested to be kept anonymous for fear of compromising her relationship with the doctors said she travelled all the way from Mbarara only to be turned away.
This TrueBeam machine which treats about 70 patients on a daily basis is just a year old having been installed in August 2020. It was procured by the government at USD 4 million, and it’s more preferred by both doctors and patients than the Cobalt 60. More than 200 patients receive radiation treatment from the Uganda Cancer Institute every day.
But Christine Namulindwa, the Institute’s Public Relations Officer refutes claims of a standstill in services saying that they have two other machines that can offer radiotherapy services. These are Cobalt 60 radiotherapy machines that treat up to 80 patients each in a day.
Namulindwa says the much sought after linear accelerator that is preferred for its preciseness and ability to quickly and specifically target some of the most complex cancers such as that of the head, liver and lungs will be up and running again next week when the servicing is done.
Last year as it was being installed, Dr Jackson Orem, the Institute’s Executive Director said machine uses microwave technology to accelerate high energy x-rays or electrons to conform to a tumour’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue. It also features several built-in safety measures to ensure that it will deliver the dose as prescribed.
However, while healthcare in government facilities is generally free, radiotherapy services at the institute are accessed at a fee which Namulindwa says this money caters for the maintenance of the machines.
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