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PRESS STATEMENT ON ALLEGED BREAKDOWN OF RADIOTHERAPY MACHINE

 
THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
 
MINISTRY OF HEALTH 
 
DR. HENRY G. MWEBESA
AG. DIRECTOR GENERAL HEALTH SERVICES
3rd June, 2018 
 
The Ministry of Health has noted with concern, rumors making rounds in the media alleging that the Cobalt 60 Radiotherapy machine at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is no longer functional. 
 
We would like to inform the public that the Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy machine has not broken down and is fully functional. 
With guidance from the manufacturer, the operations of the machine have been scaled down in preparation for its first periodic servicing which is scheduled for next week. The machine is still under warranty and therefore servicing is done for free by the manufacturer.
This new machine is a high-level and ultra-modern machine and was accepted by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Institute for Clinical Use in October 2017.
 
Following the procurement and subsequent commissioning of the Cobalt-60 machine, the long-stalled Radiotherapy services resumed in November 2017 at the Uganda Cancer Institute. 
However, due to the big number of patients that required the services, the number of patients treated per day drastically increased from about 10 patients upon re-establishment of the service in November and December 2017 to 150 patients per day by the end of March 2018. This has remained the current average number treated per day, with the exception of the emergency cases.
Similarly, the number of treatment sessions rose from about 20 to over 300 per day.
 
Approximately 1000 patients have been treated since the restoration of radiotherapy services at UCI last November, and about 15,000 treatment sessions had been done by the end of May 2018.
Consequently, the department now works in two shifts; the first: From 5.00 AM to 1.30 PM, while the second runs from 1.30 PM to 10.30 PM.
 
The designated technician from the machine manufacturer (UJP-Praha), Mr Bednar Andrej has been contacted and is expected to arrive in the country on Thursday 7th June 2018 to undertake the servicing of the machine which will commence on Friday 8th and run through the weekend of 9th -10th June 2018. Normal full capacity operation of radiotherapy services is expected to resume on Monday 11th June 2018.
 
Government of Uganda has supported training of three Radiotherapy Technicians, who are currently training in Zambia and are expected to back in the country in March 2019.
 
The construction of additional modern bunkers with six chambers -which will house four linear accelerator radiotherapy machines- has also reached a level of 95% progress and this is intended to fast track the next phase of modernization and expansion of radiotherapy services.
 
The Ministry of Health calls upon the general public to disregard the malicious rumor, and hereby reiterate our commitment towards provision of super specialized services in the areas of cancer treatment, research and prevention.
 
 
For God and my country
 
DR. HENRY G. MWEBESA
AG. DIRECTOR GENERAL HEALTH SERVICES
3rd June, 2018