Aga Khan’s Sh600m tech to boost diagnosis and cancer treatment

An Oncology nurse at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
An Oncology nurse at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Aga Khan University Hospital has invested more than Sh600 million in a state-of-the-art technology for diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

The Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT) scanner and Cyclotron is the first such scanner in East and Central Africa, the hospital said.

It enables physicians to study the body in “extraordinary” detail, allowing them to diagnose diseases early and plan the most effective course of treatment.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, was the chief guest at the ceremony inaugurating the PET-CT scanner. Also in attendance were Dr Jackson Kioko, Director of Medical Services as well as Ministry of Health officials, and other dignitaries.

“The launch of PET-CT scanner services could hardly be more timely,” said Shawn Bolouki, Chief Executive Officer of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.


“Cancer, heart disease and other non-communicable diseases now account for nearly three in 10 deaths in Kenya, according to the World Health Organization. The PET-CT scanner is a life-saving tool in the fight against these deadly diseases.”

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has committed to cover the full cost of PET-CT services at the Aga Khan University Hospital, a reprieve for cancer patients, who are often burdened by the high cost of treatment.

In addition, the arrival of the scanner means patients will no longer have to incur the travel costs associated with leaving the region to access this advanced technology.

Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University, said the addition of PET-CT services is part of the university’s commitment to expand access to high-quality health care by introducing new technologies, educating skilled health professionals and conducting innovative research.

“Our vision emphasises excellence, because the quality of care determines whether a patient is correctly diagnosed and treated, or continues to suffer,” President Rasul said.

“And it emphasises broad access because every life is valuable, and a healthy population is more productive, resilient and happy.”

More than 40 percent of heart and cancer patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital receive financial assistance from the Hospital’s Patient Welfare Programme, which helps make treatment affordable for qualifying patients. The programme is supported by individual and institutional donors, as well as hospital revenues.

Mr Bolouki thanked GE Healthcare for partnering with the hospital to hold a symposium last week that drew 250 health professionals to learn more about PET-CT’s role in diagnosis and treatment.

The PET-CT scanner will also be used in the diagnosis and management of neurological conditions such as dementia and epilepsy.

The service will be offered as an outpatient procedure unless the patient is already admitted to the hospital.

President Rasul noted that the Aga Khan University is making a number of other significant health care-related investments in Kenya and beyond. In Nairobi, it is building a 13-story University Centre to provide faculty and students with advanced resources for learning and research; establishing a Centre for Cancer Research and Department of Oncology; and plans to construct a Children’s Specialty Wing to provide specialised paediatric care. In addition, it will build a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala.