Cancer machine to increase number of patients to be treated

Friday February 5 2016

Doctors prepare a patient for treatment using the Linear Accelerator (Linac) machine at Texas Cancer Centre. The new Linear Accelerator in Kenyatta National Hospital  is expected to take its first batch of patients within two weeks. PHOTO | SARAH OOKO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Doctors prepare a patient for treatment using the Linear Accelerator (Linac) machine at Texas Cancer Centre. The new Linear Accelerator in Kenyatta National Hospital is expected to take its first batch of patients within two weeks. PHOTO | SARAH OOKO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By EUNICE KILONZO
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Kenyatta National Hospital will now treat about 50 more cancer patients every day from the current 150 following installation of a new machine.

The state-of-the-art machine, the Linear Accelerator, is expected to take its first batch of patients within two weeks, according to the head of department at the KNH Cancer Treatment Centre, Dr Eliud Njuguna.

Dr Njuguna said the machine worth Sh250 million will supplement the two currently in use.

This will be a relief to the nearly 1,300 people on the waiting list seeking the life-saving treatment from the two machines.

Said Dr Njuguna: “We are using two cobalt machines that use radiation to treat 150 patients. The Linear Accelerator which uses X-ray will take up 50 to 60 more patients daily.”

“The machine is more efficient as patients will spend less time on the treatment bed,” he added.

Radiotherapy, which is required by up to 80 per cent of all cancer cases is only offered at KNH and costs Sh500 per session. Some patients require up to 25 sessions.

The charges will not change with the new machine. The service is also available at private hospitals such as Nairobi Hospital, MP Shah and Aga Khan at an average cost of Sh10,000 per session.

The Ministry of Health says it will set aside about Sh300 million in this financial year for the purchase a cobalt cancer equipment (like the two currently in use at KNH) for Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret.

Dr Njuguna said those who will be treated using the new machine will be selected on a set “clinical criteria” from the pool of the current patients.