Radiotherapy machine finally arrives at UCI Mulago

Executive Director Uganda Cancer Institute Dr. Jackson Orem (middle) looks on as the Radiotherapy machine is offloaded from a truck Thursday at Mulago. PHOTO UCI

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | After over a year of waiting, the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) will be able to resume radiotherapy services in the country in October.

This follows the long awaited arrival of a radiotherapy machine at the institute at Mulago, on Thursday. Reports of a supposed delay “because of taxes” was dismissed by both UCI and revenue authority URA, who explained that the machine was tax free.

Delays to unveil the machine to the press earlier this week have now been blamed on clearance procedures supposed to be done by the machine manufacturer.

“We are going to start installations immediately when the IAEA seconded engineers from Europe arrive in Uganda. The process of installation and testing will take roughly one month after which services will be restored,” Dr. Jackson Orem Executive Director Uganda Cancer Institute said on Thursday, after receiving the machine parts at Mulago.

The last radiotherapy machine at Mulago broke down in April last year, leading to national outrage that there were no alternatives.

Oryema confirmed that they have completed the refurbishment of the Radiotherapy bunker at the Uganda Cancer Institute that will house the new Cobalt-60 tele-therapy.

In addition, six new bunkers are currently under construction and these will house four state of the art linear accelerators and two brachytherapy machines. The long term plan is to develop Uganda Cancer Institute into a regional centre of excellence for cancer management.

“This is how serious the Government is in Restoration of Radiotherapy Services,” said Oryem

According to Oryem, Uganda Cancer Institute is working together with the Uganda Police to ensure improved security. Security cameras will be put in place to ensure safety of the machines.

Since Uganda’s only radiotherapy machine collapsed last year, an arrangement by the Ministry of Health has seen up to 400 patients in critical condition who require radiotherapy treatment being taken to Nairobi- Aga KhanHospital.

The breakdown saw at least 2,000 other patients having to seek expensive travel and treatment elsewhere, including to Kenya.

Kenya has only three public radiation machines at Kenyatta National Hospital, and there is also a backlog of people waiting for treatment.


UCI celebrating 50 years

The arrival of the Radiotherapy machine is timely, as this month, the Uganda Cancer Institute is celebrating 50 years of service.

The institute was started on August 8, 1967 and month-long celebrations are being held by UCI.

One of the events will see the launch of a book on the history of UCI on Friday, August 18.

The book ‘Staying Alive’, written by Dr Marissa Mika, will be launched with an exhibition at Afriart on Kira Road. Professor Charles Olweny, the pioneer Ugandan director of UCI, will be chief guest.

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