The new cobalt 60 cancer machine commissioned in January this year has broken down leaving several cancer patients stranded, Nile Post has learnt.
According to reliable sources, cancer patients have gone for days without radiotherapy treatment while some have been told to consider chemotherapy ever since the machine broke down on Wednesday.
Nile Post spoke to one of the patients, a one Rachel Muhindo who says was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer and put on chemotherapy which she has had for about 14 days.
However, two days ago when she went for radiotherapy the doctors told her to wait for a call to notify her if the machine is working. She went back Friday for radiotherapy and was told to come back next week.
According to Muhindo, she has already parted with over Shs800,000 for radiotherapy which is prerequisite for private patients. Government patients on the other hand part with Shs 2000 per session.
A radiographer at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) who preferred anonymity confirmed the machine broke down and will not be serviced until Monday.
Christine Namulindwa, the Public Relations Officer for UCI confirmed to Nile Post that the machine is down at the moment.
“The machine is down but it is being serviced and that can even be finished today,” she said.
Deputy director cancer institute, Victoria Walusansa, when contacted said she would get back to us with a comment on the matter. She however did not pick our subsequent calls later.
The Minister for Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng maintained that the machine is not down as assumed but is supposed to be serviced.
“The machine is not down, but in the meantime we are working on patients who have fewer complications and can only be radiated on one side. The people expected to service the machine should be here next week,” she said.
“We don’t want to interfere with the machine’s programming,” she added.
The cancer machine was launched in January 2018 following the break down of the 1995 procured cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, which broke down beyond repair on March 27, 2016, leaving about 2,000 patients without proper treatment and some people died in the process.
The unit gets 44,000 new referrals annually from Uganda and from neighboring Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Around 75 per cent of these may require radiotherapy.
It should b recalled that during the breakdown of the old machine, patients were advised to seek services from neighboring Kenya for radiotherapy treatment while others were changed to Chemotherapy and palliative care.