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First Public Sector Comprehensive Cancer Center In Sub-Saharan Africa Opens To Public

President Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H, unveils the plaque during the launch of the Integrated Molecular Imaging Center and Hospitality Center at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H, unveils the plaque during the launch of the Integrated Molecular Imaging Center and Hospitality Center at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital. [Photo/ Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has inaugurated the first publicly-owned comprehensive Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre for the diagnosis and treatment of Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The center was built through a partnership between the locally-owned GE Healthcare’s entity and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital (KUTRRH). The Center will provide lifesaving equipment along the cancer care pathway – from screening and diagnosis, to staging, to determining the correct treatments.

This will support the improvement of cancer survival rates and serve patients across Kenya. Critically, it will also enable more cancer research to be carried out, offering the potential for KUTRRH to become a leader in cancer research in the region.

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In Kenya, cancer is the third leading cause of death, after infectious and cardiovascular diseases.  Current statistics show that over 40,000 new cases of cancer are detected annually in the country. Due to the lack of diagnostic capacity for early detection, one of the most critical factors in survival rates, many patients in Kenya are being diagnosed with stage 3 and 4 for cancer. Survival rates for later stages of cancer are around 30 percent in Kenya today, compared to early detection survival rates of more than 80 percent in markets with access to advanced technology.

eneral Manager Sub-Saharan Africa GE Healthcare, Eyong Ebai(middle) is being taken through a CT body scan machine by Consultant Nuclear Medicine Physician, Dr.Harish Nagaraj (left) and Sharon Kanana - Nuclear Medicine Technologist (right). This was during the launch of Integrated Molecular Imaging Center and Hospitality Center at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital.
eneral Manager Sub-Saharan Africa GE Healthcare, Eyong Ebai(middle) is being taken through a CT body scan machine by Consultant Nuclear Medicine Physician, Dr.Harish Nagaraj (left) and Sharon Kanana – Nuclear Medicine Technologist (right). This was during the launch of Integrated Molecular Imaging Center and Hospitality Center at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital. [Photo/ Courtesy]

“This world-class project is built with a singular goal in mind: to help save lives. It was built by our local & international experts’ teams on the ground in partnership with the KUTRRH team and I am so proud of the milestone we have reached today. The team worked through the challenging environment of the COVID 19 pandemic, taking the right measures to keep everyone safe but still delivering something exceptional. Our team will continue to support and grow, bringing increased accessibility across the Sub-Saharan Africa region,” said Eyong Ebai, General Manager of GE Healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This Center will address this challenge in particular, with the goal of bringing earlier diagnosis and increased survival rates for Kenyans. In addition, it will reduce the cost of seeking diagnosis and treatment abroad, which can be cost-prohibitive for patients and families. It will also reduce negative pyscho-social impacts on patients and families that can be caused by the necessity of traveling abroad during a time of sickness.

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Through this partnership, GE Healthcare has equipped the Center with a state-of-the-art cyclotron machine, enabling KUTRRH to create its own radioisotopes imaging agents locally – for use at the facility and with additional capacity to service the Eastern Africa region. In addition, the Center is equipped with molecular imaging equipment including PET CTs to create 3D imaging of the inside of the body and help highlight areas of cell activity; SPECT CT / Gamma Camera, which helps show the blood flow to tissues and organs and can identify tumors; and a 256 slice CT and 3T Silent MRI. This collection of the latest technology in the field will make the facility a world-class center of excellence for the region.

In addition, GE will partner with KUTRRH to provide specialized, on-the-job training for the Center’s team over an 18-month period. The opening of this Center may also enable more specialized cancer research to be carried out, offering the potential for KUTRRH to become a leader in cancer research in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Despite ongoing global supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we congratulate GE and the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) on the opening of their Integrated Molecular Imaging Centre (IMIC).  This state-of-the-art facility, using GE technology, will enhance cancer care for Kenyans in Kenya,” Diane Jones, Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Embassy Nairobi said.

GE has been a partner to Kenya for decades, across industries including healthcare, energy, and aviation. Our solutions are used in more than 100 hospitals and we will continue to support healthcare across the country.

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Written by Francis Muli

Follow me on Twitter @francismuli_. Email francis@kahawatungu.com

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