NRH still needs $11m to get CT scan working, mammogram NOT functioning

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Two lifesaving equipment at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) Mammography and Computer Tomography scan aren’t still working, the Parliamentary Health and Medical Services Committee (HMSC) has been told this week.

Although the Computer Tomography (CT) scan has already arrived in the country—it still needs a further $11m to buy associate equipment in order for it to be operational later this year.

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At the same time the Mammogram machine which is crucial to detecting breast cancer at the early stage has not been functioning since 2018.

 The National Parliament media reported this morning that the Parliamentary Committee followed up on status of Mammogram and CT scan at the NRH.

The Parliamentary Health and Medical Services Committee (HMSC), Chaired by Hon. Charles Sigoto has held discussions with key staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) over the status of two lifesaving equipment at the National Referral Hospital (NRH).

Mammography and Computer Tomography scan.

Mammography is specialized medical imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to see inside the breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

Computer Tomography scan is a medical imaging technique that uses computer-processed combinations of multiple X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce tomographic (cross-sectional) images (virtual “slices”) of a body, allowing the user to see inside the body without cutting. The personnel that perform CT scans are called radiographers or radiologic technologists.

The Committee was informed that the mammography has not be functioning sometimes in 2018 and plans to set up a CT scan machine 9 years ago has not took off as planned.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services team who were present at the roundtable stated that currently they are working very hard to link up with an engineer from Australia through virtual mode to fix the Mammogram as it needs a specialized engineer for proper installation.

The National Parliament media reported that simultaneously, the Ministry is also working hard to complete the CT Scan project as there are two components to it that yet to be completed:

– Construction of a building to house the CT scan which is only 70-80% complete.

– Procurement of associated equipment

The CT scan has been procured and is now in country but the Ministry will have to bid for another 11million dollars this year to purchase associated equipment such as a scan machine, computers, and monitoring equipment that will enable its use.

During the discussions, staff of the MHMS assured the Committee that if everything goes to plan, this project should be completed, up and running by the end of this year.

However, the reduction of the Ministry’s budget for 2021 may affect the implementation of this important project, hence, they are uncertain about its completion.

“Upon hearing this, the Committee urged the Ministry and government to prioritize these important projects at the highest level.

“The Committee also encouraged the Ministry to tap into potential sources such as donors to support the implementation of these two important projects as they are vital to the health of citizens, at the same time, it is the Ministry’s priority to improve the status of the NRH,” the statement of the meeting stated.

The mammogram machine was the only one at the NRH and it was donated by the First Lady’s charity group in 2014. Between 2014 and 2018 a total of 1,000 women did tests for breast cancer using that machine. Data from those tests showed that almost 30% of young women between the age of 30 and 40 tested positive for breast cancer and some are lucky to get treated.

Radiologist, Dr Aaron Oritaemae during the discussions said, breast cancer is the second killer for women in the country.

The round table discussion was held on Thursday 25th February with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Permanent Secretary and specialized Medical Practitioners such as Dr. Aaron Oritaemae and Dr. Joseph Bernard NRH’s Radiologists and Dr. Ivan Ghemu, DPP at the Paul Tovua Complex, Parliament House

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