Protracted delay in installing tomotherapy machine at Bir Hospital hits cancer patients

Kathmandu, January 15

Bir Hospital is yet to instal a tomotherapy machine purchased in 2018 for Rs 400 million.

Protracted delay in installing the machine has deprived thousands of cancer patients of service.

The machine was purchased by the hospital after its cobalt machine, which was used to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients, stopped working.

The hospital has stopped providing radiation therapy for the past four years forcing thousands of cancer patients to visit private hospitals, according to Dr Bibek Acharya, head of department of clinical oncology at Bir Hospital. The new machine was bought considering the increasing number of cancer patients at the hospital.

“The new machine needs a proper place for installation. It should be placed in a bunker covering wide space. We will use the same room, where the old machine was kept to install the new machine as we don’t have extra space. There has been a problem in disposing the old machine. The machine should be disposed in the same country from where it was purchased. The process for its disposal has begun. We will be sending the machine to Germany,” said Dr Kedar Century, director at Bir Hospital.

The new machine is currently kept at Nepal Armed Police Force Hospital, Balambu, according to Dr Century.

“Renovation of the room meant for its installation is ongoing.

It will take another four months to install the new machine,” said Dr Century.

Tomotherapy is a type of radiation therapy. The process combines treatment planning, CT image-guided patient positioning and treatment delivery into one integrated system.

Tomotherapy uses a single rotating beam of radiation.

With a single radiation beam, the highest possible dose of radiation is sent directly to the tumour. It allows physicians to adjust the radiation beam to precisely target the tumour of patient.

“The machine is helpful to treat cancer of brain and spinal cord. It also helps in preventing damage of tissues,” said Dr Acharya.

It is estimated that 30,000 cancer cases are diagnosed in the country every year. Of the total cancer patients, 16,000 need radiation therapy, according to Dr Acharya.