The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is set to fully cover the cost of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) CT scans at the Aga Khan University Hospital, the first facility in East and Central Africa to introduce such services.
The move promises a reprieve for cancer patients who are often burdened by the high cost of treatment.
At the moment, patients from east and central Africa have to travel abroad; mostly to India, Turkey, the US and South Africa, for such services.
The Aga Khan launched the PET-CT scanner and cyclotron last week, a service that will cost patients Sh69,500.
Sudhir Vinayak, chair of the Department of Radiology, said the hospital agreed to bring the cost down for members of the national health insurer.
“We originally thought the cost would go to Sh100,000. We could not go any lower than Sh69,500 and this is much better than what it would cost to have it done in America or even South Africa,” he said.
Prof Vinayak said the machines will enable physicians to study a patient’s body in extraordinary detail, allowing them to diagnose diseases early and plan the most effective course of treatment.
He said that patients could also seek treatment in other hospitals using results of the scan.
“This is not an Aga Khan Hospital only machine, it is for the entire country and we have also done scans for patients who travelled from Rwanda and Burundi who sought treatment elsewhere,” he said.
Prof Vinayak said that the hospital has already conducted 15 scans and has the capacity to do up to 36 a day should demand be high.
The PET-CT scanner will also be used in the diagnosis and management of other conditions.
Its services will be offered as an outpatient procedure unless the patient is already admitted to the hospital.