The Ministry of Health through the Uganda Cancer Institute promises Ugandans that the new radiotherapy machine will be fully installed and operational by November. The radiotherapy machine Cobalt 60 that took over a year to be delivered evoked public outrage and concern about the time it was taking to be delivered and yet many cancer patients were dying in hospitals.
After 18 months of waiting, the machine was delivered but there are rumors circulating that the machine is old, outdated and most likely going to cause more cancer to the patients that use it.
The committee on Health which was today meeting the Ministry of Health, a team from Uganda Cancer Institute and officials from both the National Medical Stores and Mulago Hospital to discuss among many issues, the new cancer machine and get an update on the renovation of Mulago Hospital was rather focused on this matter.
The chairman of the Health committee, Hon. Dr. Bukenya Michael was quick to highlight that the new cancer machine was under question and it is alleged that it is old and defunct right after the Deputy Director of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) Dr. Victoria Walusansa had made the initial presentation about the status of the machine in question.
The Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng took the responsibility to explain to the committee the status of the machine and expound on the initial presentation by the Deputy Director of UCI. The minister argued that the new cancer machine that was being installed is indeed new and the latest of the Cobalt machine series. She added that this radiotherapy machine was recommended by the World Health Organization and it meets the standards. She continued and said that radiotherapy machines like the one Uganda has uses less electricity and thus is suitable for African countries particularly the ones that have challenges with electricity production. The minister also explained that because the construction of the banker is not complete yet, it would be impossible to use any other machine. She assured the committee that when the bunker is finally completed, procurement of a newer and better version of the cancer machine will be started.
The minister went on to inform the committee that the Uganda Cancer Institute Board has not yet been constituted because the initial nominations that were submitted from the different institutions that are supposed to make up this board did not meet the required criteria.
The committee also asked to find out why money totaling to Ugx 2 billion allocated during the past financial year had not been used for what it had been intended for which was to buy cancer medicine. The team from National Medical Stores said that the UCI cancelled the initial plans to use Ugx 1.3 billion of that money to buy medical gas plants.