The establishment of the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) is unique in the sub-Saharan region and a relief for patients who had to travel abroad for cancer treatment.
With the purchase of a cyclotron machine and a state-of-the-art positron emission tomography computed tomography (PET-CT) scan by the government last year makes it possible to detect early cancer and save lives.
A cyclotron is a machine that produces radioactive isotopes that are used for imaging procedures to obtain finer images of areas inside the human body.
A PET-CT scan, on the other hand, has a wide range of uses in the early detection of cancer, heart disease and Brain diseases. In cancer, the PET-CT scan can show how far the cancer has spread.
KUTRRH is the first public hospital in East and Central Africa to offer such services.
The hospital’s chairman, Prof. Olive Mugenda, told journalists yesterday that the hospital is capable of diagnosing 50 patients a day.
“We have two PET-CT scan machines and we decided to have two shifts in which each machine scans about 24 patients in a day, “she said.
Prof. Mugenda said the center will help the government reduce medical travel for cancer diagnosis and promote medical tourism instead by providing nationals of other African countries in need of such services with KUTRRH.
“Kenyans don’t have to wait to be in pain to be diagnosed with cancer. In consultation with their doctors, they should come for an early diagnosis and ultimately save more lives, ”explained Prof. Mugenda.
The acting managing director of KUTRRH, Dr. Victor Njom said: “With the new scan (PET-CT) we are now able to look at the body on a microscopic level and find out how the body cells work. This is in contrast to other types like an X-ray, which only takes a picture of the body. That way, we can pick up abnormal cells very early, ”he explains.
The hospital, together with the National Hospital Insurance Funds (NHIF), has approved a standardized fee for Kenyans of around Sh40. 000 for registered members.
“As a public institution, we take care of the economic aspects and hope that the price structure of our institution is within the scope of the insurance,” said Dr. Njom.
Kenyans who pay in cash are charged about 55,000 Sh. billed and those who have subscribed to other insurance providers will be charged approximately 60,000.
Nuclear- The medical advisor Dr. Harish Nagaraj, who works with KUTRRH, told the nation yesterday that the PET-CT scan is being used on a referral basis.
“In our case, we don’t routinely do PET-CT scans, it will for patients who are supposed to have received certain information or clarifications from previous scans, “he said.
” As soon as we get a referral from an oncologist (a doctor specializing in cancer treatment), we inject the patient with one radioactive sugar tracer called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which builds up in cancer cells in the body. Depending on the affected area, the doctors then decide where the treatment should be carried out, ”he explained.
He added that the scan takes about 25 minutes, but before that the patient is injected with FDG and about an hour to make sure it spreads in the target area.
“This is a big boost in cancer treatment as we could have known beforehand that there was some type of lesion in the body but we couldn’t say whether it grows or not. This new technology will help us know the metabolic activity of a particular tumor and its exact location, “he explained.
He added,” If you look at the radiation aspect of the scan, it’s pretty negligible in comparison on the benefits it brings to health care and patient management. ”