The Indian government will Tuesday next week officially hand over the newly installed radiotherapy machine (Bharbaton II) at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
The donation is in fulfilment of a pledge by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his two-day visit to Uganda in July last year. The donation by PM Modi was in line with assisting Uganda’s efforts towards eradicating the malaise of cancer.
During the state visit by Modi, President Yoweri Museveni said that the availability of the machine would reduce on the number of Ugandans who travel abroad for cancer treatment.
“You know what this means, most of our people travel to India for treatment and this proposal can help us reduce on the number of people travelling out for treatment,” said Museveni last year.
On Thursday, government officials and other stakeholders in cancer treatment including Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Health, Atomic Energy Council and Police, inspected the installed machine.
According to Ezra Nagoya, the Resident Engineer at the Uganda Cancer Institute, who was incharge of the construction of the bunkers where that machine was placed, this is the second radiotherapy machine, that uses Cobalt 60 at the Uganda Cancer Institute. He said that he was optimistic that the machine will be in operation next week.
“This is what is called Brachytherapy machine which uses Cobalt 60 as its source of radiation. It was installed by a team from India which will come back to complete it,” he told reporters on Thursday.
He added that at the moment, the machine is being fitted with lead-made doors which protect emission of radiation to other people.
How doest it work?
Brachytherapy works by placing a source of radiation directly in, or next to the cancerous tumour inside the body.
This allows the radiation to be precisely targeted to ensure the tumor receives the most effective dose to kill the cancer cells.
This ‘tailored approach’ also reduces the risk of any unnecessary damage to healthy tissue and organs that are close to the tumour, therefore reducing potential side effects.
This is not the first time, India is giving assitance to efforts intended to eradicate cancer in Uganda. Last year, Indian based charity, Samta Memorial Foundation donated a mobile mammography unit to UCI to support the diagnosis and early detection of cancers that affect women.
They handed over a bus which houses a mammography machine and other components used for carrying out tests for cervical and breast cancer.
Last year, UCI revealed that the number of new cancer cases registered annually shot up by 500, rising from 4,000 in 2016 to 4,500 in 2017.
The cancer institute currently treats about 48,500 patients, with 75 per cent of them receiving radiotherapy treatment.
Cancer develops when normal body cells change and begin to grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way.
Now that the country has got a new cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine, Ugandans have a reason to be optimistic about getting better cancer treatment.