Thursday, 20 January, 2022
HomeNews UpdateNew radiotherapy machines in storage while Gauteng patients are turned away

New radiotherapy machines in storage while Gauteng patients are turned away

While thousands of cancer patients await treatment from public hospitals in Gauteng, and increasing numbers of them are being turned away at overwhelmed facilities, two new cancer-treatment machines worth more than R100m have been in storage for more than a year.

The Linear Accelerator (Linac) machines, which deliver high-energy X-rays or electrons to destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue, need to be housed in protective bunkers that haven’t been built yet.

The equipment was destined for new radiotherapy centres at Chris Hani Baragwanath and Dr George Mukhari hospitals but the projects were “delayed by COVID-19 disruptions”, according to Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana.

She told the Sunday Times that “the process of preparing ground for the turnkey radiology buildings is under way”.

Currently, radiotherapy for cancer patients at Gauteng’s state hospitals is offered only at Charlotte Maxeke and Steve Biko hospitals.

Charlotte Maxeke does have bunkers in place and the cobalt machines they were built for no longer work: but the bunkers are too small for the new Linacs, and expanding or altering them would be unaffordable, according to an inside source.

An official from Charlotte Maxeke’s oncology department said that of nine machines originally bought for the department 17 years ago, only four actually work.

Salomé Meyer of the Cancer Alliance, an organisation representing 33 non-profit organisations and cancer advocates, said: “Why procure machines for Chris Hani and George Mukhari when you know they don’t have bunkers or even the correct staff? They could just have bought smaller Linacs that would fit in the cobalt bunkers.”

 

Sunday Times Pressreader article – Crisis in cancer wards (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Johannesburg protest march over neglect of cancer patients

 

Cancer Alliance explores legal options to compel public/private treatment partnership

 

DA: Health MEC's reply highlights dire situation at Charlotte Maxeke cancer unit

 

Waiting times for cancer treatment worsen at Charlotte Maxeke

 

 

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