Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, through the Oncology department, has appealed to Government for funds to buy more cancer screening and treatment equipment.
The country has five radiotherapy machines, three at Parirenyatwa and the remainder at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
Of the five, four are down and the only operational machine is at Parirenyatwa. The hospital requires US$2,6 million to have the machines repaired.
This came during a tour of the hospital by the Parliament’s thematic committee on gender yesterday.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals oncologist consultant Dr Webster Katsadza said they need US$2,6 million to repair the two machines that are down and to buy additional parts for the machine that is operational, which is not operating at full capacity.
“There is need for a separate budget for cancer to replace the old machines that are no longer in use. Cancer’s treatment and management is expensive and patients have to foot other ancillary costs such as food, travelling and accommodation because treatment services are centralised at major hospitals.
“Cancer treatment machines at Mpilo have broken down and all cancer patients from across the country are now being referred to Parirenyatwa hospital.
“The country has a ratio of one radiotherapy machine per every 2,6 million people. We have a big machine that can perform multiple operations, but is not working at the moment because it needs to be serviced at a cost of US$53 000. Some patients are now going abroad for such treatments yet we have the machine,” he said.
Another Parirenyatwa oncologist consultant Dr Anne Mary Nyakabau said underfunding and information gaps are worsening the situation.
“Challenges with foreign currency need to be addressed because most of the medicines and equipment are purchased abroad.
“There is also serious information gap on factors that increase the risk of cancer, preventive options and the importance of screening.
“We need more meetings and information so that people know more about this disease so that when we communicate we will be on the same page.
“An average of 5 000 new cases are recorded every year and the majority of these cases are detected at a later stage which makes it hard to cure.”