By HENRY OWINO( Senior Correspondent)

The Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKHS) in Tanzania has installed GE Healthcare’s Senographe Pristina, a more advanced and comfortable mammography system for patients.

This is the first Senographe Pristina Digital Mammography technology unveiled in Tanzania.

Tanzania is the second country in Sub-Sahara Africa to install the mammography with the next generation 3-D digital technology after South Africa.

Early detective Breast cancer machine launching

The hospital endeavors to give greater access to high quality breast healthcare for women as a part of its comprehensive cancer care program and its vision to provide access to quality healthcare within the country. This is another key milestone for early detection of breast cancer in East Africa.

The launch made on 13 September, 2013 is also in line with the government’s Health Sector Strategic Plan to improve prevention and management of non-communicable diseases.

The technology is designed by a team of female GE Healthcare engineers who used their own insights coupled with feedback from more than 1,000 other patients, technologists and radiologists, Senographe Pristina helps to address the fear of discomfort that women face around mammograms.

The system offers comfort features for a better patient and technologist experience, including rounded corners instead of sharp edges that used to poke patients’ ribs and armpits, and armrests for women to lean on instead of conventional handgrips, so women can relax their muscles during the exam, which simplifies positioning, compression and image acquisition.

Speaking during the launch Mr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Health Services, East Africa said, “Radiology department at AKHS has been a pioneer in investing in advanced technologies to enhance diagnostics which play a key role in modern day management of patient.”

Stakeholders at the launch

Mr Shahabuddin added: “We were proud to be the first to start MRI services in the country, initiated provision of image guided minimally invasive procedures including biopsies and drainages, installed a first ever complete Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) and Radiology Information System (RIS) and the only private institution with a Cardiac Catheterization lab, Radio Nuclear Medicine & Chemotherapy suite.”

Mammograms play a key role in the detection of breast cancer, a disease if caught earlier is more likely curable. This ultra-modern unit will further boost the efforts of the institution to not only increase awareness with screening campaigns performed every first Saturday of the month but will also aid in early detection of the disease.

Chief guest Dr Daisy Majamba, Regional Dental Officer, Dar es Salaam representing Dr Yudas Ndungile, Regional Medical Officer, Dar es Salaam said, “Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after cancer of the cervix and second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Tanzania.”

“It is predicted that there will be 82 percent increase in number of new breast cancers diagnosed in Tanzania by 2030 with an increase of 80 percent in breast cancer deaths by 2030. The launch of the digital mammography system is a huge milestone in the country’s public-private partnerships in the fight against cancer,” Dr Majamba cautioned.

Andrew Waititu, Managing Director of GE Healthcare East Africa commending the launch said, “Breast cancer is a scary thought for every woman and hence early detection of the disease remains key in the disease control.”

“We are proud to partner with AKHS to bring digital mammography services for the people of Tanzania that will help in the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease,” Waititu emphasized.