KAMPALA. The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has failed to fix the Cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, days after its own deadline to do the work passed.
By yesterday, care givers reported that more than 2,000 cancer patients remained in excruciating pain and distress — and without effective alternative treatment line.
UCI late last month stopped administering radiotherapy treatment to cancer patients after the Cobalt 60 machine, imported from Czech Republic at Shs2.7b in August last year, started registering “error” during operation.
The institute called the glitch minor, promising that the manufacturer’s expert would fly in to resolve the problem. According to the timeline that UCI announced, radiotherapy services should have already resumed early this week.
However, our reporter during a visit yesterday found armed police guarding the premises. They turned away guests, allowing in only janitors.
Ms Christine Namulindwa, the Institute spokesperson, referred our inquiries on the status of the Cobalt 60 machine to Dr Daniel Kanyike, the head of Radiotherapy Department.
“I am too busy…may be you call back another day,” Dr Kanyike said, before hanging up.
Radiotherapy treatment works by directing high doses of radiation energy to target and kill cancer cells in a patient’s body.
A source at Hospice Uganda, a non-governmental organisation, which supports cancer patients, said they are currently stranded with 1,500 cancer patients desperately in need of radiotherapy treatment. Many have no money to meet upkeep costs and or transport fares for returning home.
The current malfunction of Cobalt 60 machine has occurred hardly two months after its repair following a similar breakdown in June, this year.
This more advanced and highly computerised version, which is the only on in the country, replaced the old one which broke down beyond repair in 2016.