Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 October 2018:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr. Alpha T. Wurie, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Varian Medical Systems in the USA to establish Sierra Leone’s first radiotherapy centre for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 26th September 2018.
According to Sierra Leone health ministry report, this is a comprehensive partnership agreement that will include the provision of state-of-the-art radiotherapy and diagnostic equipment, as well as servicing and maintenance, training and research collaboration.
During the signing of the MOU the President and CEO of Varian Medical Systems, Dow Wilson said: “We view this partnership as an opportunity to help Sierra Leone develop local expertise, which will facilitate self-sufficiency and regional leadership”. (Photo: Sierra Leone’s minister of health – Alpha Wurie and Varian executives discuss plans to establish a cancer centre in Sierra Leone).
“In order to achieve our mission of A World Without Fear of Cancer, we need to move beyond simply delivering equipment and consider the entire cancer treatment ecosystem, from infrastructure to human capacity and beyond,” Dow Wilson explained.
Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Alpha T. Wurie said: “It is a beautiful day for the people of Sierra Leone. As announced by His Excellency President Bio, we have a vision to achieve self-sufficiency and ownership of advanced health services in Sierra Leone.
“By establishing the first radiotherapy centre in the country, we will reduce the economic and emotional burdens on Sierra Leoneans who currently have to travel outside the country for cancer treatment.”
The radiotherapy equipment to be supplied will be a Varian Halcyon™ system. Halcyon is the newest linear accelerator platform from Varian, introduced in April 2017.
The equipment is designed to expand the availability of high quality cancer care globally and help save the lives of millions more cancer patients. This could be a particularly significant advantage in Sierra Leone, where the Varian Halcyon system will be the first radiotherapy machine in a country with more than 6 million people.
President Julius Maada Bio has made good use of his time in the United States following the UN general assembly meeting, focussing on his key priorities which are human capital development, promoting Sierra Leone’s investment opportunities, and attracting much needed high quality foreign investors. (Photo above: Bill Gates and Maada Bio talking human development).
This signing of an MOU with Varian Medical Systems which will see the establishing of the first radiotherapy centre for cancer treatment in Sierra Leone, demonstrates Bio’s commitment to ensuring that Sierra Leoneans would no longer have to travel abroad for their healthcare.
Varian Medical Systems focuses energy on saving lives, by equipping the world with advanced technology for fighting cancer.
Headquartered in the Silicon Valley area of California, Varian is the world’s leading producer of medical technology for treating cancer with radiotherapy.
Over the last 25 years, Varian has installed over 125 radiotherapy treatment systems at sites across Africa.
Over 7,000 Varian treatment systems are in place globally, delivering more than 35 million cancer treatments every year. The most common cancers in Africa are cancers of the cervix, breast, lung, liver and prostate.
Last month Varian signed a partnership agreement with Mediheal Group of Hospitals to expand access to radiotherapy in Kenya. This comprehensive partnership agreement includes the supply of advanced linear accelerators to five new radiotherapy centres across Kenya, as well as service, training and research collaboration opportunities.
The people of Sierra Leone can now look forward with hope to better cancer treatment and care in their own country.
Well done, but I have one doubt about its usefulness. Radiotherapy costs a lot and our poor population cannot afford to pay. Will Government pay for this therapy?
Basis of every cancer treatment is a solid diagnosis; for a diagnosis, you need someone to look at the tumour tissue under a microscope and do further investigations like specific receptors on the surface of the tumour cells. This is necessary in order to decide, which therapy is best- chemotherapy, radiation or surgery- or a combination.
As long as there is no possibility to verify a tumour in Sierra Leone, big machinery for radiotherapy is of little use. What is needed primarily is a working pathology in this country.