Mulago Hospital still has the capacity to treat and manage cancer patients despite the breakdown of the radiotherapy cancer machine there, Minister of State for Health Dr. Chris Baryomunsi has told Parliament.
Dr. Baryomunsi said there is no crisis in Mulago National Referral Hospital over the treatment of cancer as has been reported by the media.
“The matter has been unnecessarily exaggerated, there is no crisis,” said Dr. Baryomunsi. “Cancer patients will still be managed in Mulago and other health centres in the country. Other cases will be carefully evaluated and we, as a Ministry ensure that they receive treatment.”
The Minister came under heavy criticism over failure by government to procure and replace essential cancer treatment machines and for not handling the breakdown of the radiotherapy cancer machine in Mulago as an emergency.
Hon. Eddie Kwizera (NRM, Bufumbira East), Hon. Alice Alaso (FDC, Serere) and Hon. Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central) among other legislators raised the issue of the cancer machine.
Dr. Baryomunsi told Parliament that government had received an offer from the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi to treat up to 400 cancer patients from Uganda. He said that government would provide transport and upkeep for the patients who would be travelling to Nairobi for the treatment.
The Minister said that the broken machine was used for palliative care but that alternatives are now being used to manage and relieve pain including the use of strong painkillers. He also added that the majority of cancer patients in Uganda will be treated at the Uganda Cancer Institute.
He invited legislators to visit the Uganda Cancer Institute and interact with staff there about the treatment of cancer.
Baryomunsi said funds had been availed for the construction of the required bunker, to house the new machine, and that the construction firm had assured them that they would complete the job in six months.
He added that government had paid for a new machine having realized that the existing one was failing and explained that experts from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had said the hospital needed a new bunker.
“The design of the required bunker is ready and the procurement process of the new machine is complete. Construction will commence next month,” he said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga asked the Committee of Health to aggressively follow up the issue of cancer treatment in the country.