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How Elekta is providing state-of-the-art cancer treatment to patients in Namibia

Namibian cancer patients requiring specialized radiation therapy will no longer have to travel to South Africa for their treatment, with the opening of ...

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|Jun 9|magazine10 min read

Namibian cancer patients requiring specialized radiation therapy will no longer have to travel to South Africa for their treatment, with the opening of the new Namibian Oncology Centre equipped with the country’s first Elekta digital linear accelerator.

The private Namibian Oncology Centre is set to open in Windhoek later this year. Built and equipped with funding from Spitz Healthcare Investments, the centre will have chemotherapy, laboratory, pharmacy and in-patient facilities as well as the first digital linear accelerator radiation treatment in Namibia.

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The centre’s radiation unit, with the capacity to treat up to 50 patients a day, will bring to Namibia highly specialized treatment never before available in the country. The only other radiation treatment available in Namibia is at the state hospital in Windhoek, which uses an older, cobalt radiation unit.

The new linear accelerator offers a wider scope of treatment protocols utilizing multiple energies capable of addressing a large variety of cancers.

A team of specialists, including oncologists, radiation therapists, nurses and support staff, is now in place to staff the new centre. One of the team’s oncologists, Dr. Elré van Heerden, notes that the benefits of the new unit will extend to patients beyond Namibia’s borders, as a number of private patients from Angola are also expected to seek treatment at the facility.

Martin Noordman, service partner manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Elekta South Africa, said the Digital Linear Accelerator offers a wider scope of treatment protocols offering multiple energies capable of addressing a large variety of cancers, in a recent press release.

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Noordam explained that the Elekta Synergy Platform with a sophisticated ultra-conformal field shaping with a fully integrated multileaf collimator allows for highly targeted radiation. Higher energies are important in the case of deep tumors or large patients. Elekta Digital Linear Accelerators allow health practitioners to limit the radiation exposure of normal tissue and so limit the side effects of treatment.

Dr. van Heerden believes this is a key benefit of the new Elekta linear accelerator and advanced treatment planning capability.

“This equipment allows for highly targeted radiation treatment with limited damage to healthy tissue. This is crucial in curative treatment in particular, because with the ability to cure more patients, we need to ensure the treatment has as little long term impact on healthy tissue as possible,” he said.

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Noordman says the arrival of Elekta’s highly advanced linear accelerator in Namibia could ease the burden on the state’s oncology facility through a possible public-private partnership in future, as well as delivering a number of benefits to private patients who previously might have had to travel to major centres in South Africa for specialised treatment.

“Typical cancer treatments would entail daily treatments for six weeks,” said Dr. van Heerden. “Thus travelling thousands of kilometres to another country for treatment entails significant cost and disruption for patients, but crucially—it also separates them from their emotional support base at home at a time when they need it the most.” 

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