Rwanda is set to get its first ever radiotherapy cancer treatment centre.
The development was confirmed by Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, yesterday, during an interview on the sidelines of an international conference on Cancer in Africa organised by the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC).
According to Gashumba, the radiotherapy centre will be hosted by the Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe. It will be inaugurated early next year, she said.
“It will provide comprehensive treatment to cancer patients. This centre is a great opportunity, it will be a regional centre that will serve people around the region,” she said.
Radiotherapy or radiation therapy, often abbreviated as RT, RTx, or XRT, is therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells.
To date, there are three known treatment options for cancer: chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Radiotherapy has been the unavailable option of the three options in Rwanda.
Speaking about the importance of the development, Gashumba said that the radiotherapy centre will complement the existing chemotherapy facility available in Butaro Cancer Centre.
Radiation therapy is synergistic with chemotherapy, and has been used before, during, and after chemotherapy in susceptible cancers.
The establishment of the centre at Rwanda Military Hospital is on-going and, according to information from the hospital, different oncology experts from USA visited the site this week expressed and promised to come back “to offer medical services once the centre is running.”
Minister Gashumba also paid a visit to the facility this month.
In a presentation done this week at the AORTUC conference in Kigali, Lynette Denny, the Director of South Africa’s Medical Research Council Gynecological Cancer Research Centre, applauded Rwanda for the development.
According to Denny, radiotherapy facilities in Africa are abysmally inadequate and in many countries it is one machine for many millions of people.
Noting that at least 60 per cent of cases of cancer in Africa require radiation, Denny said she was delighted to hear that Rwanda is helping address the issue.
“So I think it is a great investment and you are going to save a lot of lives because of that,” she said.
Cancer is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths every year.