By Sola Ogundipe
Following the announcement of a new radiotherapy machine for cancer treatment at the Radiotherapy Centre of the National Hospital, Abuja in December 2017, the institution has taken delivery of another machine, the Elekta machine for Linear Accelerator (Linac).
The machine, manufactured by JNC International Ltd, isexpected to become operational by June 2018.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD), National Hospital, Dr. Jeff Momoh, said when the 2nd machine is operational, the Abuja Radiotherapy Centre would be the only centre in West Africa running two linear accelerators at the same time and would avoid running down the 1st machine which has currently treated over 200 patients.
Momoh described arrival of the new machine as a major breakthrough saying its installation would further check medical tourism as patients who travelled abroad for cancer treatment would return home to receive treatment at the centre.
“A cancer patient has returned from India for treatment at the centre and we will soon see patients from other sub-regions receiving cancer treatment in the hospital because with the state of the art equipment available, it will be the best cancer treatment centre in West Africa,” he noted.
Momoh said efforts by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, facilitated the timely delivery of the machine, even as similar machines are being expected to be installed in teaching hospitals in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.
He said for optimum functionality, the hospital has trained the first set of Nigerians on the regular maintenance and supervision of the Linac under the supervision of Mr Ikede John, an engineer and a Deputy Director in the National Hospital, Abuja.
Nigeria’s cancer treatment and management response is currently burdened by lack of access to radiotherapy facilities coupled with shortage of trained staff.
Nigeria has less than one radiotherapy machine per one million people compared to one machine to 250,000 people in the developed world.
An equity gap case study on access to radiotherapy in Nigeria conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA’s Directory of Radiotherapy Centres, showed that there are only three functional radiotherapy machines in the country.
The Union for International Cancer Control UICC, observed that one of the biggest gaps between radiotherapy machine availability and need is in Nigeria.
Radiotherapy is one of the major modalities of treatment and care for some of the most common cancers. On average, it is recommended for 52 percent of cancer patients.