It’s a milestone for Tanzania as ORCI deploys ‘nuke’ medicine

07Dec 2018
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
It’s a milestone for Tanzania as ORCI deploys ‘nuke’ medicine

THE Dar es Salaam-based Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) has made history by putting nuclear medicine services to use in diagnosing and treating complications related to heart conditions – the first time this has been done in Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam-based Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI)

The practice is the use in diagnosis and treatment of heart complications—for the first time in Tanzania.

The technology, which entails the use of radioactive substances, will be used more widely to detect heart complications among patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the facility as well as those with coronary diseases from other hospitals.

ORCI executive director Dr Julius Mwaiselage told journalists in the city yesterday that they were working in collaboration with the national (Tanzania) Office of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He said the technology has a number of advantages, including facilitating the detection of side-effects resulting from thermotherapy or radiotherapy and making appropriate medical interventions.

The director explained that it was no surprise that some patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy developed heart complications, adding that the deployment of nuclear medicine would be of great help in mitigating the impact.

“Patients with problems with coronary arteries who have never been subjected to chemotherapy or radiotherapy before will also be much more easily and effectively diagnosed and treated,” explained Dr Mwaiselage.

He said he saw the development reduce the number of complications related to heart conditions now referred to the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI), the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute and Muhimbili National Hospital.

He also saw patients from neighbouring countries benefiting from the new newly introduced services at ORCI, noting: “This particular use of nuclear medicine is a first for Tanzania and across the East African Community region. Our goal is to detect and treat heart disease complications among patients at ORCI and outside the facility.”

Dr Tausi Maftah, an expert in nuclear medicine, confirmed that ORCI can now make early detection of complications due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy generally.

Prof Raffaele Giubbini, an Italian nuclear cardiologist, meanwhile explained that nuclear medical services involve reliance on advanced developed technology.

The professor, who is head of Nuclear Medicine at Italy’s University of Brescia, said nuclear medicine has long proved extremely useful in detecting various health complications and facilitating treatment.

“I’m happy to help my Tanzanian friends in putting to useful life-saving purpose the technology deployed. I’m sure that by applying the technology involved here, Tanzania will more easily achieve its goals – especially in providing quality health services,” he said.