By Pamela Shumba
Failure to meet required standards to avoid radiation leakage has delayed the opening of Mpilo Central Hospital’s cancer unit.
Radiation leakage presents a grave threat to the health of patients or the people who would work or visit the facility which has been closed since 2000.
The Government provided the unit with equipment three years ago which has since been installed, but the institution is yet to get a licence from the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) to start operating.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa last week toured the unit to assess progress on the repairs.
He said the unit would be operational as soon as the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) gives the nod for operations to start.
“The equipment is there already but it was noticed that a few things had to be corrected, including the room which will be used for cancer treatment.
“This is what we’re fixing now and the purpose of my visit is to assess progress and make sure that work is being done in a proper way. I’m happy with the progress. As soon as we finish the corrections the hospital will get a licence and patients will be able to receive treatment,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said it was important for the unit to meet all the required standards for the safety of patients, hospital staff and members of the public.
“If there are radiation leakages from the radiotherapy department, people will be exposed to cancer and other grave health conditions. Radiation consists of several types of subatomic particles that shoot through space at very high speeds. They can easily penetrate deep inside the human body, damaging some of the biological cells of which the body is composed of,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
“This damage can cause fatal cancers, or if it occurs in reproductive cells, it can cause genetic defects in later generations of offspring. It’s a long process with a lot of regulations that have to be followed at all costs.”
The Minister said the health facility would be opened in due course.
The continued closure of the cancer unit has seen patients from Matabeleland region travelling to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare for treatment, which is costly. The Chronicle