Work to fix radiotherapy machines begins at Parirenyatwa, patients stranded years after equipment broke down

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By Mary Taruvinga

The head of the Radiotherapy department at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Nothando Mutizira has decried the non-availability of drugs and cancer machines in the country.

Zimbabwe’s radiotherapy machines at Parirenyatwa Hospital, have, according to officials, been down for the past few years which has seen cancer patients stranded and dying without treatment.

In an interview with journalists following the donation of cancer drugs worth US$50 000 by CABS, Pick n Pay in partnership with the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, Mutizira said their efforts can be worthwhile if drugs and equipment are made available.

Mutizira however noted that work to fix the radiotherapy machines has started adding that the life-saving equipment will be up and running shortly.

“As you know we have had a challenge with our radiotherapy equipment for a while but we are thankful that the engineers who are meant to come to fix our machines came for the initial assessments to see what needs to be fixed, what supplies they need to buy in order to fix these machines.

“So they have done their initial assessment and they will be coming back in the near future to fix the machines so we are looking forward to our radiotherapy machines being up and running very soon,” she said.

She said the donations received will go a long way in treating common cancers.

“We received a big donation of chemotherapy drugs that are meant to cover treatment for most of the common cancers that we treat daily.

“These drugs are chemotherapy drugs. These are drugs we commonly administer to most of our cancer patients so usually, we have a challenge of our patients not being able to afford these drugs such that it leaves us in a difficult situation where we are not able to deliver the treatment that we wish to give to our patients.

“With the availability of these drugs where our patients are not going to be buying these drugs since it’s a donation it will make our job a lot easier because then we are guaranteed that our patients will be able to receive the treatment we prescribe,” she said.

According to officials, there is only one functional radiotherapy machine in Zimbabwe and it is privately owned.

Cancer patients have been seeking treatment outside the country.

Cancer Association of Zimbabwe General Manager, Junior Mavhu said there is a need for corporates to join in the fight against cancer.

“Partnering is a noble idea. We urge all organisations to rally behind hospitals.

The funds for the current donations were raised through various campaigns by Pick n Pay and CABS.

The corporations pledged to continue assisting the community they operate in.

Meanwhile, presently available statistics by the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry show that 7 500 cancer cases and 2 500 deaths were recorded in 2018.

Thousands of cancer patients have been left stranded after Parirenyatwa Hospital’s three radiotherapy machines broke down.

Radiation is used to treat at least 50% of all cancer cases. It can be either corrective or relaxing, depending on the stage and prognosis of the disease.