VICE President Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said US$55 000 had been disbursed to fix radiotherapy machines at Mpilo Central Hospital which broke down in April.
The machines at the hospital serve cancer patients from the southern parts of the country. They broke down following developments at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare which saw patients from the northern parts of the country being referred to Bulawayo.
Thousands of cancer patients who rely on the machines have been left stranded and they are at risk of having the disease spread while awaiting treatment. Mpilo used to have an average of 150 cancer patients on its waiting list at any given time.
Recent statistics show that more than 60 percent of patients are being attended to at Mpilo. Patients tend to present at the Mpilo Cancer Unit and other public health institutions with stage three and four cancers.
At those stages, the cancer would have advanced so much that it would be virtually incurable.
Stage three and four cancers require palliative treatment which is only meant to treat symptoms or ease pain until the patient dies.
Vice President Chiwenga, who is also Health and Child Care Minister, told our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday that the Government had disbursed the money to fix the Mpilo machines. He said fixing of the radiotherapy machines was one of the first issues he wanted to attend to when he came on a familiarisation tour in Bulawayo.
“Monies were allocated, the last time I was in Bulawayo I think it was the beginning of October, we allocated money,” said Vice President Chiwenga. “That was the first matter that I inquired about, the state of radiotherapy machines. I was told about their state, we have tried to find what caused the delay in the allocation of the monies to acquire the necessary equipment. There was a breakdown that was not called for, but I have talked to Professor Ngwenya (Acting Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya) and we have sorted everything.
“We should see those machines up because US$50 000-US$55 000 that was needed was allocated and we should see those machines back online.”
Vice President Chiwenga said fixing of the radiotherapy machines was crucial considering the large constituency they covered.
“Those machines are important because they are not only for Bulawayo, but both Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Midlands,” he said. “We are very much seized with the matter and I would want to see them operational.”
Vice President Chiwenga said Government was seized with addressing challenges in the health sector, including equipping the medical centres with modern equipment.
He said failure to invest in modern equipment caused most people to seek specialist services outside the country, but the equipping of local medical centres would address the problem of exportation of patients.
“There are quite many diseases that require specialised treatment, but what I can tell you is that we have got the clinicians, the specialists, professionals, but what is lacking is equipment and equipment does not fly in just like that,” said Vice President Chiwenga.