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Govt to buy cancer equipment from best supplier – Museveni

President Museveni 

President Yoweri Museveni has said that Uganda will pay for new cancer radiotherapy equipment; months after the one at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) broke down.
 
Speaking in New York today during a meeting with Andrew Whitman, the vice president (government affairs) of Varian Medical Systems Museveni added that government will provide a grant to Varian Medical Systems Global to train young Ugandan professionals in cancer and oncological treatment.
 
“Uganda will pay for the cancer machines and also provide a grant to Varian Medical Systems to train young Uganda professionals on their use. What is important is to recruit young people and send them on government sponsorship for bio-medical training,” Museveni said.
 
Varian Medical Systems is the leading company in cancer and oncology radiation and cancer treatment equipment worldwide. They manufacture of radiotherapy and radiosurgical devices and software used in treating cancer and other medical conditions.
 
The president was responding to a proposal by Whitman on how to finance and procure such equipment, which he said is very capital intensive.

In April this year, it emerged that the only radiation machine to treat patients at the Uganda Cancer Institute had broken down. The machine had outlived its lifespan by almost 10 years.
 
Dr Jackson Orem, the director of the UCI said at the time that it was difficult to repair the machine procured over 20 years ago.
 
Dr Orem further said that Mulago had bought a new machine the previous year but that it was still being kept in Vienna, Austria because the hospital lacked a bunker to house the machine for safety reasons since it uses atomic energy.
 
The breakdown of the machine put the lives of at least 44,000 cancer patients at risk. To counter the debate that followed, the then health minister, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye told journalists that government would next year construct a Shs 100bn bunker to house the new Cobalt 60 machine
 
According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre at Mulago hospital, Uganda with a population of over 37 million people has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world. The two hardest hit groups are children under the age of 12 and middle-aged adults. 

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