UCI is Transforming from Basic to Precision Cancer
By Adiga Julius
Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is transforming from basic to precision cancer treatment, Dr. Jackson Orem UCI’s executive director has said.
According to Dr. Orem, with the latest technology of the New True-Beam Linear Accelerator, the quality of delivery of cancer care services are going to improve.
He says the treatment of cancer patients have been receiving in the Past is good but with basic equipment like the cobalt -60, now with high tech equipment treatment is going to be better.
“As you know we have installed two cobalt machines, we are now using, but it’s only proper that we now move on to the next level and that’s actually what the new machine is going to bring,’’ Dr. Orem notes.
On worries about the technical personnel that are going to maintain the machines, Dr. Orem says there are UCI technicians being trained in South Africa who upon their training will be able to maintain the new Technology which has been installed.
Dr. Orem says the new beam machine will soon be commissioned as it’s in its final stage of installation.
The head of research and training at the Institute (UCI) Dr. Nixon Niyonzima says unlike the cobalt – 60 machines which have an active Radio source ,decays every five years that needs replacement, the new true beam generates therapy on demand through the acceleration of electrons which does not have the concept of decaying every five years with no potential harm to the environment.
Dr. Niyonzima adds that though the cobalt -60 has negative effects on the environment, there are mitigations that were put at the construction site by UCI to make sure they are safely installed to Maximize any dangers.
He adds that with 3 machines at the institute the patients readily Access radiotherapy whenever its needed unlike in the past where patients had to wait for that one machine.
He said with the second machine, UCI is now attending to 100 patients per day, while in the past, there were three shifts per day on radiotherapy, therefore with the third machine the number will increase from 100 to about 200 patients per day.
The True Beam machine was purchased by the government at $3.2 million an addition to two other Cobalt-60 radiotherapy machines that are being used to treat cancer.
Cancer deaths account for 5-10% of deaths in Uganda.