SHORTAGE of staff is crippling the smooth running of Mpilo Central Cancer Unit which was opened in April this year.
The unit, which has since rolled out nuclear medicine, does not have the required number of radiographers and oncologists.
The unit needs about 20 radiographers, one nuclear medicine physician, and about 20 oncologists.
In an interview yesterday, Mpilo clinical director Dr. Solwayo Ngwenya said the shortage of staff means that only a few cancer patients are attended to each day.
“So far 19 patients have received radiotherapy since we opened. Though we have the capacity to attend to more patients, we cannot because the few members of staff can only be exposed to a certain amount of radiography daily,” said Dr. Ngwenya.
“We have also done 43 bone scans under the nuclear medicine department. It’s quite an expensive department to run which needs forex to procure consumables and repair the machines.”
He said the hospital was working hard to ensure the unit runs smoothly.
“We continue to encourage members of the public to come for screening and utilise the unit. However we also ask them to bear with us as we are working towards ensuring that it runs smoothly,” said Dr. Ngwenya.
Dr. Tatenda Chingonzoh who runs the unit’s radiography department said more than 80 percent of patients being attended to at Mpilo have stage three and four cancer which are generally incurable.
She said most members of the public were still reluctant to go for cancer screening which helps when it comes to treatment.
“The biggest problem now is that a large chunk of our patients are palliative which is when the disease is so advanced. The radiotherapy we administer is palliative to make things better as the disease would have spread to an extent where we can no longer cure it,” said Dr. Chingonzoh.