HARARE – Zimbabwe has unveiled guidelines for administering radiotherapy during cancer treatment.
Health and Child Care ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji said the guidelines would establish standards in the care of cancer patients in need of radiotherapy.
“The guidelines seek to bring standardisation into the process, so if you walk in there and you are a new person, recently qualified, they are guidelines you need to follow, there are certain protocols that then emanate from those guidelines. There is going to be improvement in efficiency,” he said on the side-lines of a two day national training course on establishing clinical guidelines for use in radiotherapy.
“… we are working very close with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), they have got a calendar, so this was a planned activity. Following on to the development of the National Strategy on Cancer, we now need to develop guidelines on specific cancers as we treat them. This one focuses on the radiotherapy centres themselves. What do you do when a patient comes to a radiotherapy centre for this type of cancer and so forth,” Gwinji said.
“So this is what the team is doing to develop very specific guidelines… as part of the whole process of making sure that we improve cancer services in Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe only has two public health facilities that offer radiotherapy services, one at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and the other at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo.
Gwinji said they were hoping to decentralise radiotherapy to provincial hospitals.
“Given the necessary resources from human resources and the necessary equipment, it’s prudent to have cancer care, even radiotherapy, decentralised to as many places as possible. For us in our system, for us, we would now first be looking at equipping provincial hospitals with such equipment before we consider going down to districts.
“It is a highly technical area and you need a whole set of skills from nurses, from doctors, from radiotherapy specialists, from oncologists, from medical physicists. So it’s a whole team that we are building up.
“So I must say over these last couple of years ,using our own national training institutions, we have managed to build up a team to an extent that we are probably adequately staffed at Parirenyatwa Hospital and now building up at Mpilo (Central) Hospital,” he said.
In 2012, government in conjunction with the IAEA acquired radiotherapy equipment for the two centres valued at $10 million.
Government has also committed funds from the Aids levy to help in procurement of cancer drugs to improve treatment of the disease.