What happened to the Cancer Treatment Centre in Kandy?

  • By Saroj Pathirana

The construction of the state-of-the-art cancer treatment unit in Kandy has been abandoned mid-way after the government took over in 2019 but the government insists the construction will complete soon.

Members of Cancer society Kandy have begun construction of the Centre in 2015 with donations received from well-wishers but was halted soon after it was handed over to the government in 2019.

Two linear accelerator machines were given by the Ministry of Health in 2019 for treatment at the new Cancer Unit. One accelerator has broken down in 2022 but yet to be repaired. The other linear accelerator is yet to fitted.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, when questioned, admitted that two linear accelerators are not being used. “they have now even run out of their guarantee period,” he said, “We will launch an investigation into what happened and why they weren’t being used.”

During a recent visit to Kandy, it was sad to see a partially-built Cancer Unit just opposite Kandy National Hospital premises. Many I spoke to were of the opinion that the construction would’ve been completed by now if it was done by Sri Lanka Cancer Society.  Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, however, says that the construction will be completed by the end of the year.

He admitted that the construction has been halted since 2019 due to Covid-19 and lack of funding but expressed hope that funding will be forthcoming soon, especially as Sri Lanka has now received a bailout package from the International Monitory Fund (IMF).

“Once completed,” says the minister, “We will be able to launch a fully pledged operation in Kandy. Then we might see a reduction of the crowd in Apeksha hospital in Maharagama,” he added.

The donors and well-wishers however are surprised as to why the government let such an important machinery decay in their original packaging while tens of thousands of patients lack proper cancer treatment facilities.

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