MRI scanner for Komani

Travelling to far-flung areas to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a thing of the past for the Chris Hani district community following the launch of this highly-priced machine in Komani recently.

Dr Nikelo Mabandla, a radiologist practising at Life Queenstown Private Hospital, launched the specialised machine which cost about R15.5m. “Our practice did not have one. We had all the other scanning and x-ray equipment but we wanted to have this one, particularly given the need in the community of Komani. The machine is quite difficult to acquire because of the expense and because there are not many radiologists. We currently have a machine like this in East London, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein. I am not sure if the one in Mthatha is functional at this stage. The challenge was that doctors always had to send patients to one of these towns.”

Dr Mabandla, who took over from Dr Mkhize two years ago, said because Siemens had a bigger market share, they were the manufactures of the machine.

The machine is for people who have specialised medical conditions such as brain and back problems that need to be operated on. We have patients that we cannot diagnose with other machines and we therefore cannot schedule their treatment. With this powerful machine they will be able to get that diagnosis before we even refer them elsewhere if we must,” he added.

The official ribbon cutting ceremony was done at 41 Prince Alfred Street before proceeding to The Gallery Restaurant where Dr Mabandla was supported by family, staff members and local doctors.

In his speech Siemens Healthineers head of sales Ayanda Swana indicated that the institution had key value promises which were to expand precision medicine and to improve patient experience, adding that digitising healthcare was efficient. “This is a contribution to the welfare of patients and to avoid unnecessary referrals over long distances. You are also able to integrate digital data and come up with information that helps at arriving at a decision. The other form of digitising is telemedicine which means a doctor is able to read scans done in other health centres. The doctors are able, through servers and storage of information, to transfer those images, view and interpret them and come to a diagnosis. We want medicine to be more precise, so that with one observation you come to the correct diagnosis and you do not end up with repeated examinations and possibly the wrong diagnosis,” Swana said.

Dr Mabandla’s accountant, Trevor Hofart, said the acquisition was made over a relatively short time. “It is a privilege to be here and share this occasion, not only for Dr Mabandla and the practise, but I believe for Komani and the whole region. This is a significant moment as far as healthcare goes. The thing that has really impressed me most is the discipline that has come with creating what we have here. Things like this do not just happen, they come from serious financial and personal discipline.”

Speaking on behalf of the medical practitioners, local doctor Siyabonga Jwaqa said Dr Mabandla had changed the way radiology was performed in Komani. “It was unfortunate that I had to have three MRI scans done in this small body of mine and I had to travel once to East London and twice to PE which is not a pleasure when you are sick. The doctors appreciate all that you do for us because these things cost money and are emotionally draining. We join your family in pride and on behalf of Komani doctors this is exciting for us.”

Border Kei Life Healthcare executive regional manager Bruce Janssens, who described the machine as an essential medical service, welcomed the additional equipment, indicating that it addressed the Chris Hani District Municipality’s vision which was to position Komani as the business hub. “Medical imaging equipment plays an important role in the diagnosis of illnesses which assists in patients getting the necessary treatment. The community will benefit greatly from having access to this service as they will not be inconvenienced by having to travel out of town to receive vital medical services. Dr Mabandla’s practice offers a valuable service to our community and we welcome new equipment of this type. It will benefit the specialists so that patients can access quality care through clinical excellence,” he said.

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