An illustration of an esophageal cancer patient.Radiotherapy has been touted as a key pillar in comprehensive cancer treatment and in medical imaging tools that are used for disease detection.

Medical professionals from across Africa are meeting in Mombasa to provide access to better, safer and modern diagnostic and treatment routines such as radiotherapy, which will allow for early cancer detection and improve patient outcomes drastically.

The five-day Diagnostic Imaging, Treatment, Dosimetry and Maintenance Workshop comes at a time there is concern in the country over rising cancer deaths and amid projections the disease will be the leading cause of death in low and middle – income countries by 2030 causing over 10 million deaths annually.

The workshop is an initiative by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to support the Government’s Big Four Agenda – affordable healthcare programme that involves diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy application whereby international trading relationships are built on.

“At KEBS, we wish to emphasise the value of National Quality Infrastructure as the very foundation on which cutting-edge health programs are built. Healthcare trust is built through quality infrastructure that must include standards, testing, metrology, calibration, accreditation, dosimetry, codes and regulations designed to ensure high level of confidence in the outcome of medical service,” said Dr Henry Rotich, Director, Metrology and Testing, KEBS, during the opening ceremony.

“As products and services become internationally competitive, the solution lies in the use of standards in order to create better, safer and more sustainable products,” he continued.

Over the past 40 years, Medical Imaging has revolutionised healthcare. Radiotherapy has been touted as a key pillar in comprehensive cancer treatment and in medical imaging tools that are used for disease detection.

In this regard, approximately 3.6 billion diagnostic medical examinations, such as X-rays, are performed every year worldwide with over half of newly diagnosed cases and 40% of cancer cures obtained using radiotherapy alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Using radiation in medical imaging can save lives and prevent the need for more invasive procedures. However, Dr Rotich warns that this should be used cautiously as inappropriate use may lead to unnecessary and unintended radiation doses for patients.

“Over time, medical equipment tends to degrade and that affects their accuracy and precision. A drift in the measurement is unacceptable,” he said.

“Calibration is needed for the instruments to work accurately and at its optimum. KEBS provides calibration of equipment to minimize the uncertainty in measurements. This helps in reducing the errors and brings the measurement to an acceptable level,” added Dr Rotich.

Through the workshop, KEBS aims to collaborate with international experts, researchers and decision makers both from academia and industry to improve and strengthen safety regulations, standards and practice in the application of imaging and radiotherapy technique in Kenya.

The Government is implementing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to attain the desired status of health as elaborated in Kenya Health Policy.

This will lead Kenyans to receive quality, preventive, curative and rehabilitation health services without suffering financial hardship.

The session was attended by Dr David Otwoma, Chairman, East Africa Association Radiation Protection (EAARP), Mr Ryan Collyer, Deputy CEO, Rosatom, Ms Zakithi Msimang, Director Ionising Radiation and National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA), Dr Paula Toroi.

Others were Technical Officer, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr Kwasa Elijah, Kenya Association of Radiologist (KAR) and Mr Andrew Waititu, CEO, GE Healthcare East Africa, among others.

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