Kenya to receive Sh600m cancer equipment from nuclear agency

Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital

Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) Radiation Oncologist Dr Tracy Irura operating a Linac Accelerator machine at the hospital cancer ward on February 3, 2022. Picture by Francis Nderitu

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Kenya has received cancer diagnosis and treatment machines worth Sh600 million at the ongoing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Austria.

The Kenyan Ambassador to Austria, Ms Mary Mugwanja, revealed that the Sh600 million Linac machines will arrive in the country by July.

A medical linear accelerator (Linac) is the most commonly used machine for external beam radiation treatment of cancer patients. The country will benefit from the establishment of a nuclear pollution monitoring programme in three coastal counties, covering major pollutants and ocean acidification, monitoring plastic pollution and finding practical solutions for plastic management in Kenya.

In an interview with Nation, Ms Mugwanja said Kenya has benefited and will continue to benefit from her collaboration with the IAEA in health, climate-smart agriculture, technical capacity building and training.

The agency deals with safety and security in the use of nuclear energy and its mandate is to strengthen the global nuclear safety and security framework and to coordinate international activities in nuclear safety and security, including through training, technical advice, peer reviews and other advisory services to member states.

Nutrient use efficiency

Ms Mugwanja said Kenya, with support from IAEA, was recognised as having successfully used nuclear technology to increase smallholder productivity by using labelled fertiliser to measure and improve nutrient use efficiency and biological nitrogen fixation of improved bean varieties. 

Kenya has also received nuclear-based equipment to measure soil moisture evaporation and crop transpiration to improve water and nutrient use efficiency, and greenhouse gas measurement systems to determine the impact of cropping systems on climate change. This information is critical in determining appropriate climate change adaptation practices. 

Kenya joined the IAEA Board of Governors in September 2022 for a two-year term. IAEA helps member states in the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes and facilitates the transfer of such technology and knowledge to member states in a sustainable manner. 

“Kenya is proud to be a member of the IAEA and the agency is committed to continuing to promote a strong and sustainable global nuclear safety and security framework in member states, working to protect people, society and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation,” said Ms Mugwanja.