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.