Radiotherapy needs law: Medic
By JUNIOR UKAHA
PAPUA New Guinea needs a proper legislation in place before a radiation machine can be sourced for cancer treatment, Angau Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Dr Christopher Kenyhercz says.
Kenyhercz said because the country did not have a legislation in place, it was difficult to import a radiation machine to treat cancer patients.
He said radiotherapy was one of the three most common methods used in cancer treatment.
Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation beams to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells in the human body.
It is understood that an old radiation therapy machine at the national cancer treatment centre (NCTC) in Lae had broken down some years back but was never replaced due to the legislative dilemma.
“What we are looking at is for a legislation to be passed by the Government so that we can get new radiation equipment,” Kenyhercz said.
“You have to get the legislation in place in order to bring the new machines here—that is not done yet.”
Kenyhercz explained that because the radiation machine involved radioactive substances, it needed proper guidelines to handle and well-trained doctors to operate the machine.
“I think the Department of Health is working diligently to get this (legislation) as quickly as possible in place,” Kenyhercz said.
“Unfortunately, this is a long process and whenever a country wants to bring in a radioactive doze it needs to follow rules.
“Because someone has to say we brought this new type of cancer machine that can treat this type of cancer but we have to take responsibility of the care and maintenance of it.
“No one wants to sell you a radioactive source that will not be maintained properly.
“It becomes a health risk.”
Kenyhercz said the NCTC had the drugs and the doctors already but it needed the radiation machine.
He said radiation machines needed to be carefully calibrated because they could kill any cell while attempting to remove the cancer cell.
Therefore, a properly trained oncologist was needed to operate the machine.
NCTC does not have an oncologist at the moment because the last oncologist brought into the country left two months ago.
Kenyhercz said the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) in Zurich, Switzerland, had offered to bring someone to PNG to assist in radiation-related matters but before they do that there must be proper legislation and policies in place.
“Why bring a radiation oncologist here when we do not have a proper radiation policy right now,” he said.
“If the (radiation) machine is broken down here, what is this doctor going to do?”