The executive director of Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), Dr Jackson Orem, has assured the public that the new Cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine will be pressed into service by mid-December, raising the hopes of many long-suffering patients.
Orem told journalists yesterday as he unveiled the machine to the public that the official launch is scheduled for January next year, by which time radiation tests are expected to have been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We are in advanced stages of testing the machine to make sure our radiation levels are within acceptable limits. Last Friday, we sent some tests to Vienna for inter-comparison and once it's all done, we shall start treatment. We are now waiting for approval from IAEA to confirm if our radiation doses are at international standards," he said.
Dr Awusi Kavuma said the machine is safe because the bunker where it's located is about 1.3metres thick, which means that all the radiation emitted while treating patients is absorbed within the wall.
" Even the radiation worker who is in the control area is safe because of the thickness of the wall and the tests we did confirmed that radiation leakages were almost zero around the area where the machine is located. It is also safe to public, since we made sure all the radiation levels are within acceptable limits," he said.
Dr Daniel Kanyike, the head of radiotherapy, observed that: "There are passwords for treatment of patients in this machine, which we couldn't do in the old machine. If I authorise a treatment, I must put in my password as this patient. Nobody can treat a patient without authorisation of the doctor concerned," Kanyike said.