By Julie Badui Owa – EMTV News, Lae
Angau Hospital expects to resume radiotherapy for cancer patients in six weeks time according to Lae’s Angau Hospital CEO, Dr Christopher Kennyhertz. The Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, Dr Goa Tau is meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Austria to buy cobalt-60 – the radioactive material used to kill cancer cells.
In January this year, the Parliament passed a law that would enable the import of radioactive materials.
According to Lae’s Angau Hospital CEO, the new radiation source for the cobalt machine to treat cancer is expected to reach PNG by April this year. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive material that supplies energy to the cancer treatment. It has to be replaced after every six-years. The cancer unit has not had one since 2012.
Now that the law has passed and the Government can now import the radiation source, Dr Kennyhertz says the next step is to get radiation therapists and oncologists to operate the machine.
The Government should have replaced the radioactive material, or the radiation source of the cobalt machine six-years ago when PNG became a member of IAEA in April 2012, however, that did not happen because there wasn’t a law in place to govern the use of radioactive material in the country.
The passing of the Bill by Parliament on the 24th of January this year and a funding of K11 from a commitment of K30 million has made it possible.
For the past six years, patients have been told to go overseas for treatment. Those who have the money, get treatment overseas, others eventually find themselves on death beds as they are not able to afford it.