Vice-President Saulos Chilima says Malawi should have a fully operational National Cancer Centre by June 2022.
The Veep has since challenged the Department of Buildings to beat the deadline.
Speaking in Lilongwe yesterday after touring the National Cancer Centre to appreciate the state of implementation of the project, the Vice-President said it was pleasing that the centre has started partial service delivery in form of chemotherapy while construction is still in progress.
The tour was conducted as part of the Public Sector Reforms agenda he is spearheading with the aim of ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery.
Chilima said: “They are providing chemotherapy services here, but what we need is radiotherapy and we are trying to see how fast we can deliver the timelines committed by June 2022, both for the civil works and equipment.
“We hope to have a fully-fledged cancer centre by June 2022, which will be a good development for the country.”
He said although the facility will be partially operational after phase one, which is expected to be completed by June next year, government is looking forward to phase two which will see a further expansion of accommodation facilities for patients, guardians and staff.
T he Vice – President acknowledged that the project has delayed because there was a change in initial designs which meant more time and resource allocation.
He said he expects no further delays beyond the June 2022 deadline because the desired equipment is available, some from the government of India and another bought by government.
Said Chilima: “I can assure Malawians that the project will be completed in time because the construction of current structures was done on time, save for the change in designs. So, if what is here was completed within schedule, I have no reason to doubt that the 12 months that have been committed will be enough.”
In 2017, government launched the Cancer Centre Project with the aim of saving resources spent on referrals for treatment abroad.
Head of the National Cancer Centre at Kamuzu Central Hospital Richard Nyasosela said a lot has been done at the centre, but what is missing is the radiotherapy treatment.
He said with the coming of the Vice-President, they have renewed hope that government will ensure that the bunkers and radiotherapy machine will be installed in time.
Said Nyasosela: “The cancer situation in the country is very critical. Most cancer cases come to the centre at an advanced stage that requires multimodality treatment whose main component is radiotherapy.
“So as a country, we really need the radiotherapy machine. We also have breast and rectum, vulva among other cancers that need radiation treatment.”
Before touring the centre, Chilima met Lilongwe City and District council officials in camera to appreciate the state of implementation of reforms.
The cancer centre is being constructed with a loan from Opec Fund for International Development to the tune of $13 million (about K10 billion). Government will also make financial contribution as per the loan conditions.