The former Chief Radiation-Oncologist at Angau Memorial Hospital’s Cancer Unit says, the cancer radiation treatment machine would need to undergo major service work while the source of radiation, Cobalt, needs to be replaced every four years.
Dr. John Niblet points that it has been 7 years since the machine treated its first cancer patient. It was installed in 2008 but there has never been any major service work carried out on the machine itself as well as the replacement of the source of radiation.
Lae is the only center in the country that provides radiotherapy treatment and majority of the cancer patients currently at Angau are half way through their radiation treatment.
The treatment of a cancer patient is a process that requires a set of certain medical steps. With the machine not working, a sick person has no choice but to wait.
Radiation treatment needs to be done straight through the 4 or 5 weeks cycle of treatment.
The National Health Department was notified numerous times of the issue but nothing has eventuated.
To buy a new cobalt machine would cost around K2.5million and K3 million.
But, if the machine breaks down medical physicists who are volunteers from Australia are flown in to fix it.
According to Dr. Niblet, when such happens the unit only need to notify the health center manager of the problem so that experts from Australia can come and fix the problem.
Niblets’ remarks are in response to the break down of the cancer radiation treatment machine three weeks ago.
This has prompted cancer patients who have had their treatment stopped halfway through to raise concerns.
Angau CEO, Dr. Christopher Kenyhercz, said the unit will bring in a new CT Scanner and a mammography to help improve diagnostic abilities.