Parirenyatwa Hospital clocks two years with broken down cancer treatment machines

HARARE – Parirenyatwa Central Hospital, government’s biggest public health facility, has been operating without crucial radiotherapy machines after they broke down over two years ago, legislators heard on Tuesday.

The crisis has left patients with no choice but to seek treatment in expensive private health facilities for the service.

The public health facility offering subsidised services serves as the only hope for a poor majority that cannot afford treatment elsewhere.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on health and child care currently on a tour of the country’s cancer units was told during a visit to Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital that the insititution’s radiotherapy units have remained dysfunctional for more than two years now.

The hospital is one of the only two government centres that offer radiotherapy.

“We have three external beam radiotherapy machines which are very old; they have outlived their lifespan and they are due for replacement.

“Unfortunately we have a sad situation in the radiotherapy department.

“All these three radiotherapy machines are not working. For the past two years, we have not been able to offer radiotherapy in our unit,” acting Parirenyatwa chief medical officer Dr Tsitsi Magure told MPs.

She said the public hospital is unable to offer the more effective HPV and Pap smear services for cervical cancer due to lack of laboratory support.

Luckily due to interventions by the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation mobile unit, Parirenyatwa now offers mammography screening for breast cancer.

“Our own mammogram has not been working for the past 15 years and we have not been able to buy or replace it,” she said.

Head of oncology, Dr Nothando Mutizira said when fully operational, the hospital would give 16,000 radiotherapy sessions annually but those patients are now stranded.

At least 60 percent of all cancer patients need radiotherapy as part of their treatment.

“We would give over 16,000 radiotherapy sessions per year. So you can imagine what has been happening in the past two years where the machines have been down,” she said.

Committee chair and Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokele described the cancer treatment situation at Parirenyatwa as traumatic but urged authorities to be innovative and not just wait for government intervention.

“I was here last year in March and practically went through the same experience. Nothing is changed.

“You cannot complain for 15 years while no service is provided and patients are dying. Think outside the box,” he said.

The post Parirenyatwa Hospital clocks two years with broken down cancer treatment machines appeared first on Zimbabwe News Now.

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