ZIMBABWE has five radiotherapy machines for cancer treatment with only one being functional while the rest are faulty.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Two machines are at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo while three are found at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare where the only functional one is housed. All the machines were purchased from a Switzerland based company named Varien.
Briefing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender on Monday, Parirenyatwa consultant oncologist Dr Webster Kadzatsa said they long to see other machines work at their hospital.
“Zimbabwe is among the 28 countries with these radiotherapy machines. We secured about US$10 million from Government which was earmarked for the procurement of these machines.
“At Parirenyatwa we have three machines and at Mpilo there is one. Here at Parirenyatwa some of the machines worked for a while until in 2016. What happens is that the manufacturers of these machines want to do the servicing themselves.
“We have patients coming from Bulawayo referred to us for the single functional machine we have. The machines require latest softwares for treatment of cancer” he said.
At Parirenyatwa they treat using radiotherapy about 70 patients a day with the pressure mounting on them from the southern part of the country which could have been covered by Mpilo Hospital.
“It is sad that we have a bigger machine with more functionalities lying idle. It is like we parked a Mercedes Benz to use smaller Honda Fit for cancer treatment. The manufacturers recommended we find some Uninterruptable Power Sources (UPS) after seeing that that electricity flow usually fluctuates which might disturb the machines as they do not need that,” Dr Kadzatsa said.
It emerged that Parirenyatwa requires about US$ 53 000 to service the other dysfunctional radiotherapy machine. The parliamentarians were shocked why the money has not yet been availed to the Hospital as it is minimal.
“It is our plea that the Ministry of Finance and RBZ prioritise health. We wrote letters to them in November last year asking to be given the money to service the machines. Some of the letters were written to our line ministry that is the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance asking for the money to service the machine,” said a hospital official who refused to be named.
Another official said they were told by the manufacturers that they would work of a US$2 million service plan valid for five years.