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Specialist sounds sos for cancer detecting machine

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By Feston Malekezo:

Cancer specialist from the College of Medicine (CoM) has appealed to well-wishers to help her replace a cancer-detecting machine which got damaged in February this year.

Dr Briony Acroyd-Parkin’s portable ultra-sound machine, which is used to diagnose breast cancer, was stolen from a car on February 5, 2018 when she was travelling to Mangochi with a colleague to attend to patients showing signs of cancer.

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The gadget was eventually recovered after police launched manhunt but, according to Dr Acroyd- Parkin, the machine was damaged ‘beyond repair’.

“We were very happy when the machine was found and we thank the police for the commendable job they did. Unfortunately, from the time the machine was found to date it has not been functioning. It was damaged beyond repair,” she said.

The Balaka Second Grade Magistrate Court convicted and sentenced two people to nine years imprisonment with hard labour after they were found guilty of theft of the cancer-detecting gadget.

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After the incident the machine was tested both in South Africa and the United Kingdom but the result in both countries was that the machine was damaged beyond repair.

“That is why I would like to appeal to Malawians and all people of good will for donations to try to replace the damaged machine,” she said.

The specialist, who is an honorary lecturer in the department of surgery at the College of Medicine, used her own money (an equivalent of 12 million Kwacha) to purchase the equipment when coming to Malawi.

 “The problem from the point of view here is that without the machine it really compromises the service that I provide. And I use the machine entirely for all my clinical practice—the breast diagnosis service. So when I go to hospitals that are peripheral for example Mangochi to do breast cancer scanning I need the machine,” she said.

Dr Acroyd- Parkin whose department is attached to Queen Elizabeth Hospital further calls the development a ‘serious loss’ because assessing any patient with breast cancer symptoms is done through a process called triple assessment.

“There are three components to triple assessment; the first is patient examination which involves taking patient history. The second is imaging of radiology. So the most important mode of radiology in a setting like Malawi is ultra sound scanning, and without the ultra-sound machine the triple assessment cannot be done. The third component is biopsy; which is only done depending on the results of the ultra sound scanning,” she said.

In Malawi, approximately 80 percent of breast cancer patients die in two years due to lack of recognition and presentation of the non-communicable disease.

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