Mumbai: Radiation therapy machine at Nair hospital broken for 10 days

Officials plan to replace 25-yr-old unit with two modern variants

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Sunday, October 30, 2022, 10:38 PM IST
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The 25-year-old radiation therapy machine at the BYL Nair hospital has been dysfunctional for the past 10 days. As a result, patients are being referred to Tata Hospital, Cama Albess Hospital, Bethany Hospital and other available facilities. Radiation therapy is a kind of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. Health officials said they are planning to buy a better version of the radiotherapy machine for Nair Hospital but the timeline is not yet known.

A senior official from the department said Nair Hospital is the only civic hospital that was providing radiotherapy for the past 25 years. But now the machine needs to be replaced as there are always some minor breakdowns causing an inconvenience to patients. “We have no idea when this machine will be repaired and functional. This is the third major breakdown in the last year. In addition to this, there have been 4-5 minor breakdowns for which the department was shut for close to one week,” he said.

“We have the cobalt machine for radiotherapy. It is the oldest one and has undergone wear and tear over the years. Most of its parts have been replaced. Also, it takes more time to provide radiation therapy,” said a doctor.

BMC's additional municipal commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar said, “We are going to buy two radiotherapy machines. One will be a cobalt-60 therapy unit and the other will be a brachytherapy unit. Head and neck cancer, cervical cancer and brain tumours can be treated with this machinery,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sion Hospital will begin radiation therapy soon, for which authorities have floated tenders for the project, estimated to be Rs 60 crore. “We have identified the area for the radiation therapy department. We are floating tenders for the construction and to buy equipment. Along with the department, we plan to have a 40-bed facility for cancer patients,” Sion Hospital dean, Dr Mohan Joshi said. The hospital currently has a facility for chemotherapy – a kind of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.

He added that a 12-storey building will be set up wherein the basement and three floors will be dedicated to cancer treatment. “In the basement, there will be a radiation therapy centre while there will be an OPD (outpatient department) on the first floor, an IPD (inpatient department) on the second floor and an operation theatre on the third floor,” he said.

At present, the hospital sees close to 100 patients coming to its cancer care OPD every week. “Of these, 40-50 will benefit once we start providing radiation therapy,” said Dr Joshi.

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