Cancer patients in the country are anxious and angry as the only functioning radiotherapy machine out of the seven in the nation’s tertiary hospitals has broken down.
A radiotherapy machine is the device most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer.
Patients who had travelled from Gombe State to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, on Tuesday told our correspondent that they had been turned back by three other tertiary hospitals where the cancer treatment machine had broken down.
One of them, who said he was diagnosed with cancer of the bone, said he could no longer tolerate the pain and might have to travel abroad, where he could continue with his treatment.
He said, “I was diagnosed at the teaching hospital in Sokoto State, but I was referred to Gombe for radiotherapy sessions when the one in my state stopped working. I got to Gombe, their machine had broken down too. I was referred to the UCH in Ibadan, theirs was also not working.
“I came to LUTH on Monday, they had said their machine was faulty. They told us they were working on it but for how long will we continue to wait?”
Another chest cancer patient said she had also been to the UCH in Ibadan, but was told to come to LUTH, as their machine was undergoing some repairs.
She told our correspondent that she was planning to check with Eko Hospital, Ikeja, the only private hospital with a radiotherapy machine in Lagos.
A source who spoke to our correspondent at LUTH confirmed that the machine broke down last week, however, the hospital’s management had contacted the suppliers to help fix the faulty equipment.
When contacted, the Chairman, National Programme on Cancer Management, Prof. Abayomi Durosimi-Etti, who confirmed the situation said there was a need to upgrade many of the machines as most of them were old and obsolete.
He, however, said they were waiting on the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to carry out repairs on the faulty machines.
He said, “The problem is that those machines were old and then we have this erratic power supply and third, the humidity and dust is not helping. This is because they require certain conditions to get them to operate optimally.
“I know that the Federal Government and the minister are doing a lot to get round the problem. At the moment, patients go abroad and I am ashamed of this situation.”
“We expect that the one in LUTH will be back hopefully this week. It is just a minor problem which I know the management has got arrangement to get someone to fix. It’s the vacuum pump that is faulty.
“But we must address the problem because if the one in LUTH starts working, it can just go off since every cancer patient in Nigeria will come there now.”