Kampala. After nearly one year of restless wait, the executive director of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) has announced that the new Shs1.8 billion cancer machine is to be installed in June.
Dr Jackson Orem, in an interview with Saturday Monitor recently, said the cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine is expected to be shipped at the beginning of May after the completion of renovation of the old bunker to house the new machine at Mulago Hill.
Uganda’s only radiotherapy machine broke down in March last year, leaving nearly 2,000 patients without any proper treatment, with some 400 of the cancer patients forced to travel to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya for better management of the illness.
“The renovation of the old bunker to house the new machine is at about 85 per cent and by the second week of April, it should be handed over to us,” Dr Orem said.
He said the new machine would be shipped into the country after the renovated bunker has been assessed and approved by the National Atomic Council.
“We expect that by the second week of May, the machine would have arrived and the restoration begins, then the testing and by June, the commissioning will have been done and our function restored,” Dr Orem said.
Earlier, Dr Orem had indicated that the machine, which is to be procured by the Geneva-based International Atomic Energy Agency, was to be shipped into the country in March. However, this did not materialise.
He said shipment will be in two parts, the heavier part of the machine coming by sea and the source with radio-active substance by air.
On Wednesday, Dr Orem also received a cheque worth Shs185 million on behalf of UCI from the diplomatic corps. The money was raised during the Second Annual Diplomatic Black Tie Dinner held in November last year.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta graced the dinner as chief guest and contributed Shs66m towards the cancer institute, with his counterpart President Museveni , who had invited him, contributing Shs100 million.
“Diplomats voted last year to support UCI and whatever they decide, we shall implement and support,” Maj Gen Geoffrey L. Okanga, the Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda, and also the dean of diplomatic corps, said. He said the dinner raised about Shs364m and after organisational expenditures, they had saved Shs185 as contribution to the cancer institute.
Dr Orem said the money will go towards building the pediatric screening capabilities for the cancer institute.
The cheque was handed over by Ms Rossette Nyirinkindi Katungye, the director of regional affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa.