Mpilo and Parirenyatwa cancer machines to be repaired

The Ministry of Health and Child Care says it has signed a three-year maintenance contract with Varian Medical Systems, a radiation equipment supplier, to repair critical cancer machines at Mpilo and Parirenyatwa hospitals, with the repair process currently underway.

This development comes as Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo lacks functioning life-saving radiation treatment for cancer patients, with the last treatment occurring in 2021.

Nonfunctional radiotherapy machines and a lack of a service contract were the root of the crisis, exacerbated by a shortage of local expertise to fix the machines.

Read background here:

Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Sleiman Timios Kwidini told Parliament that the Ministry has taken proactive measures to address the repair of the cancer machines at Parirenyatwa and Mpilo Hospitals by engaging Varian, the equipment supplier.

“I am pleased to inform you that the repair process is currently underway, with Varian engineers working diligently to restore the functionality of these crucial machines,” he said in Parliament last week. 

The deputy health minister said recognising the importance of ongoing maintenance and support for these machines, the Ministry has established a three-year maintenance contract with Varian.  

“This contract ensures regular inspections, preventive, maintenance and prompt repairs, if necessary to sustain the functionality of the cancer machines in the long term,” Kwidini said.

“By partnering with Varian and implementing a maintenance contract, the Ministry is demonstrating its commitment to providing continuous and improved cancer care services.”

Kwidini added the Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of Finance to repair cancer machines at both Mpilo and Parirenyatwa hospitals and the repairs require intensive forex.

“The earlier funds are made available, the earlier all repairs are done and the centres become functional,” he said.

Having properly functioning equipment is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, said Kwidini, noting that it will ultimately lead to better outcomes for cancer patients.

“The Ministry will closely monitor the repair progress and implementation of the maintenance contract to ensure that the cancer machines at Parirenyatwa and Mpilo Hospitals are fully restored and maintained to the highest standards. This commitment aims to enhance the quality of healthcare services and support the well-being of patients in need of cancer treatments,” he claimed.

The deputy health minister also said the Ministry is developing a National Cancer Control Plan that will guide cancer services in the country in the next five years.

“The Ministry of Health is undertaking International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cancer projects that will train cancer healthcare workers such as oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists through fellowships,” he said;

“The Ministry is in the process of applying to the IAEA Rays of Hope Initiative that has been assisting other countries in Africa repairing cancer machines or providing new cancer machines or setting up radiotherapy centres.”

Kwidini added the Ministry of Health and its partners such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) are quantifying cancer medicines so that it helps in procuring essential medicines to increase access to cancer medicines.

“Training of health workers is ongoing in collaboration with partners to help in early detection of childhood and adult cancer,” he said.

“In the comprehensive treatment of cancers, early detection plays a crucial role.  It is imperative to raise awareness among the population about the importance of regular medical check-ups for early detection and successful treatment of cancers”

According to Kwidini, surgical intervention is another treatment option for cancers and this service is available at all referral centres including Parirenyatwa and Mpilo providing patients with access to this vital service.

“It is worth mentioning that a combination of the treatment methods may be prescribed by doctors based on individual patient needs and the specific characteristics of their cancer; and

The Ministry remains committed to providing comprehensive and accessible cancer care services and efforts are underway to address the challenges faced in delivering radiation treatment options,” he said.

“The well-being of cancer patients is top priority and the Ministry will be working towards ensuring the availability of diverse and effective treatment options.”

Kwidini’s comments came after Bulawayo North legislator, Minenhle Gumede inquired about the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s efforts to improve cancer patient services, as well as the repair timeline for radiotherapy cancer treatment and diagnostic machines at Mpilo and Parirenyatwa hospitals.

Meanwhile, when Dr Narcisius Dzvanga, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Mpilo Hospital, was contacted for comment, his phone rang unanswered.

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One Comment

  1. Already the deputy minister is casting doubt on the availability of funds, so the paralysis continues…

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