Malfunctioning ACs halt radiotherapy for 3 weeks
Cancer patients receiving treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) have been suffering for the last three weeks as the hospital's cobalt therapy machine became inoperative after both of its air coolers began malfunctioning.
Dhiraj Mollik, chief medical technologist at RMCH, said one of the air conditioners of the cobalt-60 radioactive therapy broke down on March 25 and the other one broke down three days back.
After the first air cooler broke down, the machine began malfunctioning, he said, adding that engineers from the capital arrived at the hospital the next day and repaired the machine.
Mollik further said the engineers strongly recommended running the machine at a temperature between 18°C and 20°C otherwise the machine will overheat.
However, after repairs the air conditioners have been unable to maintain a temperature below 30°C, he said.
Mollik said the Public Works Department have replaced compressors of the air coolers several times in the last two weeks but to no avail.
Talking to The Daily Star, Dr Dayem Uddin, head of the hospital's oncology department, said some 200 patients take daily therapy from the hospital.
These patients now have nowhere to turn to as the treatment is very costly at private hospitals, he said, adding that at government hospitals the cost per therapy ranges from Tk 5,000 to Tk 6,000, while at private hospitals the cost is around Tk 2 lakh.
Moreover, 25 percent patients are provided free treatment depending on their financial solvency, he added.
Patient Hossain Ali of Puthia said he has so far undergone 18 therapy sessions out of the prescribed 38.
Hossain's treatment has taken a setback when his therapy sessions came to a halt as he cannot afford private services.
He is now waiting for the machine to be operative.
Contacted, Moynul Haque, sub-divisional engineer of PWD, said they need to replace the air conditioners but they do not have the fund at the moment.
Replacement of the two air coolers require around Tk 2 lakh, he added.