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Mpilo Cancer Treatment Machines Non-functional Since 2021

5 days agoWed, 15 May 2024 12:22:29 GMT
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Mpilo Cancer Treatment Machines Non-functional Since 2021

Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo lacks radiation treatment for cancer patients, with the last treatment occurring in 2021 due to the breakdown of radiotherapy and mammography machines.

As reported by CITE, the situation has been exacerbated by a shortage of local expertise and an unreliable power supply.

Since the breakdown of the radiotherapy and mammography machines at Mpilo, most of the radiographers left, leaving only two. Without proper power management, the machines cannot function.

In 2021, Mpilo Hospital installed a US$100,000 Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system for the radiotherapy unit.

However, according to the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Narcisius Dzvanga, engineers said that the current UPS is too powerful for the machines. He said:

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The engineers can only service the machines once we replace the UPS. They claim the current one is unnecessarily large, but we received it in that state. It’s not up to us to adjust it.

During a tour of the radiotherapy department by the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Care on Monday, it emerged that the CT scan has been out of service since October 2023 due to a software issue requiring German engineers. Local attempts to resolve the problem have been unsuccessful.

Clinical Director Professor Solwayo Ngwenya told the Parliamentary Committee that the last time Mpilo performed radiation treatment was in 2021. He said:

These machines are expensive. They can’t simply be discarded. The machines stopped working three years ago, in 2021. As acting CMO, I wrote a letter to the Ministry [of Health and Childcare]. They are aware.

Oncologist Dr.Tatenda Chingozoh said power fluctuations can damage the machines. She said:

Power surges damage these delicate machines. Even minor faults prevent us from administering radiation treatment, which can be life-saving. Patients are forced to seek treatment at private facilities.

Without the radiotherapy machines, the radiotherapy cannot use the CT scan as it works in conjunction with the machines.

There are three CT scanners in the government system, one at the main Mpilo hospital, another at UBH and then we have the oncology dedicated one.

The members of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Care asked why the hospital couldn’t switch to alternative power sources.

In response, Operations Director Joe Charangwa explained that regardless of the power source, it must be routed through the UPS to ensure consistent electricity. Said Charangwa:

Even solar power requires a UPS to prevent surges. The UPS stabilises and protects the main machine, whether powered by ZESA or solar.

Chingozoh said with non-functional machines, the remaining staff are undergoing training to maintain their skills. She said:

We offer limited alternative treatments due to staff shortages caused by emigration. Out of the eight radiographers we had when the machines were functional, only two remain.

We have a high staff turnover. Even our physicist is new. All the previous physicists left the country. We try to keep staff trained.

Currently, our physicist is attending a course in Nigeria. Next week, there’s another training in Cape Town.

The Mpilo CMO said that cancer patients are forced to seek treatment at the private Oncocare facility in Newlands, as Parirenyatwa Hospital faces similar challenges.

More: Pindula News

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