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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeHealthUnderstaffed Parirenyatwa Radiotherapy Unit Resumes Operations

Understaffed Parirenyatwa Radiotherapy Unit Resumes Operations

Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals has resumed operations in its radiotherapy unit after a two-and-a-half-year shutdown, offering a glimmer of hope to cancer patients who have faced prohibitive costs in the private sector.

However, the hospital acknowledges that challenges remain due to a limited number of staff currently undergoing refresher courses to familiarize themselves with the radiotherapy machines.

At full capacity, the department can treat 60 patients daily. Presently, only 10 patients are receiving treatment, according to Nothando Mutizira, Head of Parirenyatwa’s Radiology Department.

Addressing the media yesterday, Dr. Mutizira confirmed that a radiotherapy unit has been repaired and is currently operational. Due to the reduced capacity, the hospital is prioritizing patients based on the urgency of their conditions.

“We are very excited that our radiotherapy machines have been fixed and so far we have one machine which is up and running. It started running two weeks ago so we’ve been gradually adding patients to this machine.

“As you know our machines have been down for over two and a half years so we’ve been gradually adding patients to our machines and whilst all cancers are a priority we are triaging our patients and putting them on the machine based on agency…” Mutizira said

She added “So right now like I mentioned again we are slowly adding patients so far we have 10 patients as of today who are on the machine. We hope to add another six this week and we’ll be adding six patients per week as we go.

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“When the department is functioning at its peak we normally have about 60 patients on radiotherapy per day but right now we have not yet saturated our machine and we hope to do that gradually so that we don’t overwhelm the machine and also so that we don’t overwhelm our staff. Right now we have a serious shortage of our radiotherapy patients. We are really operating the skeleton staff so we also don’t want to overwhelm our staff.

“They are also undergoing fresher courses as they have not been working with radiotherapy machines for the past two years so that’s why we are doing this process gradually so that we can manage the numbers and also manage our patients adequately and give them the best care.”

The Ministry of Health and Child Care said it had secured a three-year service contract for the machines to minimize future challenges.

“Given the prolonged downtime, the Ministry secured a service contract for these machines, effective for three years.The purpose of the service contract is to ensure timely repairs and reduce downtime.” Mutizira said

This is a welcome development for cancer patients as private hospitals charge exorbitant fees ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for 25 radiotherapy sessions.

Parirenyatwa’s unit is the only affordable option for many.

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Cancer remains a major public health issue in Zimbabwe, with over 5,000 new cases diagnosed annually and 1,500 deaths each year, according to the Health Ministry.

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