Health crisis looms as Korle Bu’s only cancer treatment machine breaks down; patients stranded

Health crisis looms as Korle Bu’s only cancer treatment machine breaks down; patients stranded

Another health crisis is looming as the only cancer treatment machine at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has broken down, leaving scores of patients stranded.

On Thursday, July 4th, 2024, patients who arrived for their scheduled treatments were turned away as oncologists worked frantically to bring in engineers to repair the machine.Men, women, and children, some of whom have travelled from different parts of the country for treatment, now find themselves without the life-saving care they desperately need.

A breast cancer patient referred from the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), is one of the many patients left in limbo.“I started this journey about two years ago, treating breast cancer at the University of Ghana Medical Center. I initially did surgery at the UGMC, but after a recurrence, I was referred to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” Sandra told JoyNews in a telephone interview. “I was scheduled to start my treatment here at Korle Bu. But when I arrived, I was told that the machine had broken down. That was a month ago. I was rescheduled for last Thursday to start my radiation therapy. I managed to receive treatment on Thursday and Friday, and I was supposed to continue from Monday, every working day, for 16 days, but that has been a big challenge.Today marks one week, and I’ve only completed two sessions. As I speak, I am returning from Korle Bu, the machine has broken down again. I couldn’t receive my treatment. I’m not just speaking for myself; there are many women in the queue waiting.”Professor Joel Yarney, Head of the Oncology Department at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, confirmed the situation to Fred Smith, Head of the JoyNews Health Desk. He explained that Ghana has only two such machines, one at Korle Bu in Accra and the other at the Komfo Anokye in Kumasi – the country’s two major referral facilities.Last week, oncologists at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital withdrew their services to protest delays in fixing the cancer treatment machine at their facility. This situation, coupled with an increase in cancer cases in Ghana, has compounded Korle Bu’s problem, with some patients travelling from across the country and lodging in hotels while they wait for treatment.“We used to have just a handful of cases per day at our facility. These days, we are seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases in the country, and the resources to deal with it are simply not there. We are now dealing with up to 60 cases per day, so that sort of pressure on a single machine will cause it to break down,” Prof Yarney told JoyNews.The cost of repairing and maintaining such machines is also very high, further complicating the issue.Sandra’s case reflects the dire consequences of the machine’s unreliability.“The question is, how effective will this treatment be if the machine keeps breaking down?” she asked, voicing the concerns of many patients who fear that their treatment may lose its potency due to these constant disruptions.


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