Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, has officially opened an advanced oncology facility at the cost and investment of R36 million at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (GDMAH) in Ga-Rankuwa, Tshwane.

This new facility, which was setup in collaboration with Philips South Africa, forms part of the Gauteng Department of Health’s (GDoH) strategy of boosting service delivery and fast tracking the diagnosis of patients suffering from cancer in the region.

The facility includes an advanced Philips Ingenuity TF PET/CT– a nuclear imaging technique that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) to evaluate the structure and function of cells and body tissue. This advanced PET-CT solution ultimately offers a variety of patient-specific methods and tools to facilitate optimal management of both image quality and radiation dose – allowing practitioners to focus on each patient’s specific needs.

“The launch of the first of its kind PET-CT imaging system in Africa serves as a testimony of our unreserved commitment to improve patient care and the realisation of the Gauteng government’s agenda of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation,” said MEC Ramokgopa.

“The GDMAH serves a 1.7 million population catchment area, which includes the Bojanala District in the North West Province and Limpopo Province. Therefore, I am optimistic that the launch will mark the beginning of an end of suffering to the majority of our cancer patients who used to be referred to Steve Biko Academic Hospital (SBAH) for appropriate PET-CT Scan diagnostics prior to specific treatment for their type of malignancy. This was less than ideal because the overloading of SBAH resulted in tremendously long queue delays which impacted negatively on effective patient management,” said MEC Ramokgopa.

“The system was installed in June 2017, and has already helped guide decision-making for early diagnosis and assessment of treatment efficacy for over 140 patients,” said Head of Nuclear Medicine at GDMAH, Prof Trevor Mdaka.

“We are thrilled with the results and the level of care we are able to provide our people with world-class technology,” continued Prof Mdaka.

Many patients referred for PET suffer from anxiety that has been found to affect the image quality and often result in a false positive, which impacts the diagnosis and quality of care. To address this challenge, the new solution transforms the experience by customising both the uptake and scanning room to create a comfortable and calming environment for patients by using technology as a positive distraction when needed most.

The immersive, multi-sensorial experience, can lead to greater involvement from patients in their own therapy, reduced anxiety and increased comfort, contribute to higher patient satisfaction, and even a possible reduction in procedure time.

“In today’s complex care environment, delivering high quality critical care demands new approaches and thinking,” said General Manager at Philips South Africa, Ntutule Tshenye.

“We know that there are no simple solutions to the complex realities associated with oncology care, which is why innovation drives us to push the boundaries that are standing in the way of organising healthcare around the patient to deliver better outcomes,” continued Tshenye.

The newly acquired facility will contribute towards effective diagnosis and management of patients, improve the training and education of healthcare professionals, as well as sustain efforts to improve medical research for the benefit of finding solutions to the burden of disease in our communities.

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