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Citizen Weekly

Saturday, 21 March 2015

NEW CANCER MACHINE IDLE AS CRISIS WORSENS



As desperate cancer patients possibly die, others lie on hospital beds and at homes, following collapse of the cancer treatment machine at Kenyatta National Hospital, it has emerged that a new Sh218 million cancer treatment equipment has been lying idle for over a month.
The radiotherapy machine known as linear accelerator secured by the tax payer has been at a warehouse owned by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The facility was meant to be used at KNH.
The linear accelerator is idle just because the Government had not paid Sh2.3 million in licence fee to Radiation Protection Board.
Radiation Protection Board registers, inspects, licenses and enforces compliance with the Radiation Protection Act in all practices in the country. This is despite construction of the facility on which the plant will sit known as the banker which is situated at KNH having been completed in December at a cost of Sh300 million.
At the centre of the crisis is a licence to operate the modernised radiotherapy machine in the provision of more adequate cancer treatment at the country’s largest referral hospital as administration rushed to ‘repair and calibrate’ the only repairable radiotherapy model (cobalt) acquired in 2010.
Medical experts said the second one needs to be decommissioned after being in use for 23 years.
KNH has only two radiotherapy machines, cobalt model, serving at least 150 patients per day.
Even as questions linger over why the Government kept the facility idle regardless of the life-threatening crisis, it emerged that top Government officers were aware of its availability and only acted after public pressure began to build.
KRA continued to hold the facility until a licence allowing its usage in Kenya was obtained. Contacted for comment, Senior Communications Officer at KRA Maurine Njong’o would not immediately issue an official comment over linear accelerator except to say, “I am out of the office currently and thus unable to give you an official statement on that matter because I would have to consult and have no information about the same as we speak.
However as you know, it is our responsibility to protect the citizens against importation of materials that would otherwise affect their well-being. We cannot haphazardly release any sensitive item like that without certification. We insist on certification, we must be sure it’s fit to go to the market.”