India says it is ready to ship a high-tech cancer treatment machine to Malawi by June this year in fulfilment of a promise made by its vice president Shri Venkaiah Nadu during his Malawi visit last November.
India acting High Commissioner Anil Suli, in a written response to a questionnaire on Wednesday, said the radiotherapy machine is expected to arrive in the country in two months’ time.
The machine would be a relief to thousands of cancer patients in the country who struggle to access specialist treatment in the absence of radiation equipment and shortage of well-trained personnel.
He said: “The machine is for radiotherapy treatment. This procedure has no side effects as it shrinks cancer tissues by not harming the surrounding healthy tissues.
“This is the most effective solution for head and neck, breast and cervical cancers which are the commonest in Malawi. It can treat between 70 and 100 patients per day.”
India announced the approval of a proposal to donate a radiotherapy telecobalt unit called Bhabhatron-II for Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH)’s cancer centre.
The Indian government also committed to train Malawian doctors and radiologists on how to handle the sophisticated equipment.
Many Malawians have been travelling to India for specialist cancer treatment.
However, the construction of the National Cancer Centre, which is supposed to house the machine is still ongoing, having missed its deadline last year.
In a written response Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said the ministry would ensure that the machine is ready to use when it arrives.
“We are doing preparatory works to install all auxiliary equipment. We have done 90 percent of the work and we should finish by December. The remaining work is installation of bunkers for radiation equipment which requires guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“By end of May, we will move the Oncology Ward at KCH to the new facility, thereby creating more space for other departments. There we will start with the usual procedures such as chemotherapy before we open the radiotherapy treatment,” he said.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Malawi recorded 19 767 cancer patients with the disease causing 13 779 deaths in 2018.