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Why cancer machine from India is yet to arrive at KNH

He came, he promised, and went. Two months later, the cancer machine that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged is yet to arrive in the country, because Kenyan and Indian officials are yet to agree on the modalities of installing the machine.

According to a Kenyan health official who is privy to how the Sh300 million Cobalt and simulator radiotherapy machines were to be delivered, despite being in communication, the two countries could not agree on some trivial changes that were to be made to the room where the machine is to be installed.

The Cobalt Radiotherapy Unit, known as Bhabhatron II, was to be procured from Indian company Panacea Biotec.


However, before delivery, the Indian Government is said to have placed a request for modifications to the room that was to house the machine, including wall reinforcements.

But according to the health official, with or without the modifications, the machine would have been installed.

“They need some renovations and adjustments made to the room where the machine would be installed, but to us, the changes they were asking for were not so critical to warrant the delay of delivering the machine since it was only affecting the exterior parts of the room,” said the source who requested not to be named.

During his visit to the country in July, Mr Modi made a number of pledges to Kenya, key among them helping the country to construct a top-notch comprehensive cancer treatment centre at the Kenyatta National Hospital.


The Asian country had also made a commitment to donate a high calibre radiotherapy machine to the referral hospital, which would radically change the treatment of cancer as it would kill cancer cells by targeting them through “pinpoint therapy” without damaging surrounding tissue.

This type of treatment is different from the old system where tissues surrounding the tumour are also damaged.

The machine was targeted to treat 40 to 50 patients daily and was expected to be installed this month.

However, cancer patients seeking services at KNH will have to wait for another two months before they can get the services of the new machine.

“We have been corresponding with them since the pledge was made. In fact, our latest communication — about three weeks ago — was to notify them that we had made the changes they wanted. But we are yet to receive any feedback,” said Dr Eliud Njuguna, who heads the KNH Cancer Treatment Centre.

Speaking on phone, the Indian High Commission’s First Secretary in charge of commerce and economics Shri Chandramouli, said that the machine will leave India by the end of October.

“The government of India has already approved the procurement of the machine and the company notified of the same, so we hope that in the coming two months, the machine will be at the KNH,” said Mr Chandramouli.