The Ministry of Health in Zambia has announced the commencement of an extensive rehabilitation and re-equipping project for the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Lusaka.
The government has allocated funds for the project, and a contractor has been identified, with works set to begin in the first quarter of 2024.
According to Mwiza Mwiya, the Public Relations Officer for the Cancer Diseases Hospital, the rehabilitation works will include the decommissioning of obsolete equipment and radiation sources, the reconstruction of buildings housing diagnostic imaging and radiation equipment, and the installation of new diagnostic imaging radiotherapy machines.
Additionally, the project will involve the commissioning of four linear accelerators, two branchy therapy units, one digital mammography, and one Simulator.
The comprehensive rehabilitation process is expected to span a minimum of twelve months, aiming to position the CDH as a regional center of excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer upon completion.
Despite ongoing works, the hospital will continue providing essential services such as chemotherapy, nuclear medicines therapy, surgery, palliative care, as well as In and Outpatient services.
Presently, the diagnostic and treatment machines at the CDH are nonfunctional, lacking spare parts in the market. Approximately 500 patients in Zambia are waiting to receive radiotherapy, prompting the government to negotiate assistance from the Republic of Tanzania.
Patients will be sent to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, offering radiotherapy at an estimated cost of 4500 United States Dollars per patient in intervals of 40 patients at a setting. The Zambian government will cover all associated costs, including transport, accommodation, meals, and treatment.
While no patients have been sent to Tanzania yet, the Ministry of Health assures that procurement processes are in progress. Patients awaiting radiotherapy will undergo assessment by the ad-hoc committee at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) for recommendation and referral to Tanzania in collaboration with CDH. Trained nurses will accompany patients on these trips.
The CDH, recognized as a Fourth Level National Referral Centre for specialized cancer treatment in Zambia and neighboring countries, has treated approximately 40,000 cancer patients since its commissioning in 2006.
Notably, 60 percent of these patients have accessed radiotherapy services, highlighting the crucial role the hospital plays in the region.
The rehabilitation initiative represents a significant step forward in Zambia’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art cancer care, addressing both the immediate challenges in the healthcare system and laying the foundation for long-term excellence.