Ocean Road cancer unit has drugs for all in need

THE Ocean Road Cancer Institute can now meet all its drug needs, thanks to easy accessibility of chemotherapy now rated at 100 per cent.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu says availability of cancer drugs at the institute has increased from four per cent in 2015/2016 to 60 per cent by March, this year, while all chemotherapy services are adequately met - and easily available.

In addition, the minister credits the institute for having also reduced waiting time for radiotherapy patients from three months down to six weeks during which patients receive treatment twice a week, saying that the aim is to scale the waiting period further to a mere fortnight.

Ms Mwalimu has also disclosed that Ocean Road had since served a total of 19,244 patients - 3,982 of them new patients who joined an existing roll of 13,109 were regular patients. Altogether, some 6,717 women were scanned for cancer during the period under review.

During the 2016/2017 period, the institute has completed renovation of the chemotherapy centre and managed equipment and more beds since the number of patients has increased from 40 to 100 at a go, she says. Further, she says that availability of radioactive iodine stands at 100 per cent, all purchased from a South African company through the Medical Stores Department (MSD).

In the meantime, the institute has established a community shop which has increased availability of drugs and increased income from the sale of drugs from 30m/- to 700m/- per month. Ms Mwalimu made these disclosures in the National Assembly, where she also said that the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), on its part, had saved 3.7bn/- after performing its own operations instead of taking the patients to India.

To date, 236 heart surgeries were performed at a cost of 1.5 bn/-. The minister also disclosed that some 608 patients were operated on through the institutes catheterization laboratory (stents, percutaneous intervention, device closure and pacemaker).

Ms Mwalimu said this was an increase of 190 per cent compared to 290 patients received during FY 2015/2016, adding that 89 per cent of the operations were conducted by the institutes own doctors.

However, the minister said that early marriages still pose a major problem, saying statistics indicated that there was an increase of 37 per cent more than previously recorded. She cited the regions leading in this trend as, including: Shinyanga (59 per cent), Tabora (58 per cent), Mara (34 per cent), Dodoma (51 per cent) and Lindi (48 per cent).

Ms Mwalimu further said that 27 per cent more children had been reported with childhood pregnancies, with Katavi leading with 36.8 per cent, Tabora with 36.5 per cent and Simiyu at 32 per cent.

The minister yesterday presented her budget estimates, asking for 1,115,608,772,090,00/- during FY 2017/18.

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