One of our new partners, Elekta, a Swedish company that provides equipment and clinical management for the treatment of cancer, has said it would repair the faulty radiotherapy machine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba & University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State on a complimentary basis as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
The Managing Director, Elekta Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Erik Leksell, said this would be done in partnership with JNC International Limited.
Leksell, who disclosed this at the closing ceremony of the CEAFON Cancer Summit in Abuja, said it was brought to Elekta’s attention that cancer patients in both hospitals had been waiting for as long as five months, in the case of LUTH, for the linear accelerator machines to be repaired and they should be able get radiotherapy treatment by the end of December 2015.
This is following a report in THE PUNCH titled, ‘Trouble for cancer patients as machines falter,’ and published on September 17th , which said that patients in the affected hospitals had had to travel from Lagos to Ibadan, Sokoto and Abuja for radiotherapy.
Leksell noted that although the affected machines lacked Planned Preventive Contracts, which ensures that their radiotherapy machines would be serviced regularly, the company could no longer fold its arms and watch Nigerian patients suffer.
He identified high patient load on radiotherapy machines in Nigerian hospitals as reasons why cancer machines falter regularly.
According to him, Nigeria, with a population over 170 million people, has only five LINAC radiotherapy machines, which falls below the IEA standard.
Leksell said, “We installed the one in Sokoto, Enugu, Benin, Lagos and in Abuja and two of them are down at present. Our commitment is to make sure these two linear accelerators are back and running in the next five to six weeks at no cost to the institutions.
“The challenge now is that the radiotherapy machines in Nigeria are very old. The one in Abuja is 17 years old and services at least 100/120 patients a day. Also these machines were not signed onto the service contract but we must do what we can to get these two machines back to working condition.”
He said even though the life span of these cancer machines is 25 years poor maintenance could shorten their efficiency to eight years.
Leksell said,“ It is important that we reach out to the Ministry of Health to make them realise that this is an emergency in the country. They must not just buy machines; they must sign them on to maintenance policies too. Nam
“We will help sort out these two machines now but they must sign onto the after service contract, otherwise Nigeria will be in this situation in the coming years.”
The Executive Director, JNC International, Mr. Voke Oshevire, stated that Nigeria needed 200 radiotherapy machines, at least, to reduce the patient load on the radiotherapy machines after they have been fixed.
Oshevire said, “We are concerned that Nigeria has patients who need radiotherapy and can’t get this treatment now. Let’s fix it. But the reality is that these machines are old, It is either we replace them or upgrade them.
“Going by the IARC standard, Nigeria needs at least 200 radiotherapy machines and we have just five. We must increase the number of centres rapidly.”
In addition to repairing the faulty machines, Mr. Oshevire stated that JNCI would collaborate with physicians and engineers on capacity building, which is aimed at increasing the skill sets needed to ensure that the machines are functioning at their full capacity.