PARIRENYATWA Group of Hospitals radiotherapy machines are down again with South African technicians expected to land in the country next week to fix them, a cabinet official said.
By Kuda Pembere
Touring the radiotherapy unit at the institution yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo expressed concern over the frequent breaking down of the radiotherapy machines.
The three machines the unit has were recently repaired after working for only two months. In July one of the machines showed faulty signs until it broke down.The Health Minister directed the Parirenyatwa Management to get service contracts for hospital equipment.
“I have been telling them that we want to see the engineers coming here as quickly as possible to rectify these machines. They should be here by next week. At the same time I also discovered that there are no service contracts for the maintenance of the machines.
“You can’t run a service without a service contract. Service contracts are very essential so that we are able to rectify a problem immediately and fix the problem in time. So that is lacking. So I told the management that they have to put a service contract in place for at least five years,” said the Health Minister.
The Minister added that Private Public Partnerships are ideal to prevent further machine breakdowns in the future.
“And we need to have another new machine here. At the end of the day, what is really necessary here is for us to have a joint venture partner for radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We have shortage of foreign currency yes but if we bring in a partner capable of bringing in new machine. And on top of that being able to repair our machines continuously. I think it will go a long way,” he said.
Dr Moyo said the equipment manufacturers should ensure they equip local engineers with indepth knowledge needed in repairing the machines.
“The manufacturers of machines will not impose their technicians on us. We will use our own local knowledge for their benefit and not their knowledge for their benefit. In terms of partnerships, we are saying they will be able to bring in their new machines which they have to service. One of the conditions is that they must also teach our local staff.
“At the moment, these are our own machines and there is no one who has been trained to fix those machines because these people are not there. They just brought the machines and left them here.
“Now if we have a partnership, they are locked into a contract arrangement where number one they will train our staff. They will make sure that the machines are working on a continuous basis, because what we want at the end of the day is continuous delivery of services. That’s the beauty of having that type of partnership,” he said.
The hospital’s cancer treatment unit does not have an inhouse technician but just a radiotherapy physicist with surface knowledge on the maintenance of the machines.
“One of the problems is that we do not have a resident engineer for our machines. The machines need frequent checkups by the engineers and we don’t have that service. Engineers fly from elsewhere and fix our machines. For us that is not a sustainable experience.
“So we need local engineers. We need a plan to have our local engineers. Even cadres like physicists we need more of them in this department so that we can be able to upgrade our machines. The infrastructure is such that we can do any treatment like anywhere else in the world. We have got the capability, we have got the human resources but we just need support,” said Parirenyatwa’s Hospital consultant oncologist Dr Anna-Mary Nyakabau.
PCD Diagnostics Managing Director Mr John Maseko said the notion of hospital equipment coming with service contracts is the way to go.
“It’s about time. The Minister needs to change his policies by not accepting cheap equipment in Hospitals,” he said. PCD Diagnostics is a local supplier of hospital equipment.