By A Correspondent- 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.
The radiotherapy machines at Parirenyatwa are said to have been down for the past 18 days, with authorities trying to bring in foreign engineers and the required spares to repair them.
Stranded patients who require the services are now vulnerable to further spread of the cancerous cells, as well as suffering immense pain.
Lovemore Makurirofa from the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe said interruption of cancer treatment was a major drawback in the recovery of patients. Makurirofa said:
It is critical that when radiotherapy is commenced, it should not be interrupted. The breaking down of the machines means that there may be certain cancer patients who were on treatment, but of which treatment will be now interrupted. The results are that it will give an opportunity for the cancer to spread.
Radiotherapy relieves pain by shrinking the cancer cells, and so without the machines, it means many patients are experiencing a lot of pain, especially those on palliative care.
Parirenyatwa Hospital spokesperson Lenos Dhire said the interruption in the provision of radiotherapy services started on January 17, 2022, due to the breakdown of equipment.
This is not the first time that the machines have broken down. Over the years, this critical service has been interrupted despite the fact that Parirenyatwa is one of the country’s two major referral centres for cancer patients.
Mpilo Hospital is the other centre, but its machines also face similar challenges and patients often travel to Harare for radiotherapy.-newsday