CAPE TOWN, South Africa and STOCKHOLM, June 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- To address the growing need for radiation therapy services in South Africa, Equra Health (Cape Town) has entered into a long-term agreement with Elekta in which Equra will acquire 15 Elekta radiation therapy systems and allied equipment. Equra and Elekta also will work together to build an advanced facility for training cancer management professionals. The partnership addresses a global trend, in which developing countries – including South Africa and other African nations – are contributing significantly more new cancer cases worldwide than are developed countries.
"In 2008, 56 percent of reported new cancer cases came from developing countries, and by 2020 it is projected that up to 70 percent of new cancer cases will come from these countries*," says Erhardt Korf, Chief Operating Officer at Equra Health, a corporation of 24 private clinics. "This preferred provider partnership with Elekta will ensure that the South African population, and in time additional countries in Africa, will have access to world class technology, accurate planning systems and excellent technical and application support."
The need for advanced radiation therapy machines in South Africa alone is acute, he adds. In a country of about 50 million inhabitants, 71 linear accelerators are in operation in public and private centers, of which Equra Health operates 27 linear accelerators, mainly from Siemens and Elekta.
"GLOBOCAN's 2008 published cancer incidence figures put South Africa's cancer burden at an estimated 255 new cases per 100,000 people each year," Korf notes. "Assuming that 60 percent of all new cancer cases will benefit from radiotherapy, and that one linac is needed for every 500 new cases if cancer is diagnosed in more advanced stages – as is typically the situation in Africa – our country actually requires 151 linacs.
"Access to radiotherapy has been hampered by a variety of factors, including the cost of the equipment," he adds. "Our agreement with Elekta is designed to increase the affordability of radiation therapy technology for Equra, which in turn will dramatically increase patient access to these services over the next 10 years. It will allow the possibility for the public and private health care sectors to cooperate, which will help reduce waiting lists for treatment and enable patients to receive therapy earlier. This will improve outcomes and provide a significant economic benefit for the country as a whole."
The first Elekta linear accelerators under the partnership are currently being installed.
New center to train hundreds on modern cancer care technology
In parallel with Equra Health's technology acquisition will be the establishment in Cape Town of a joint Equra-Elekta training center, which should be built, equipped and ready for operation by the second calendar quarter of 2014.
"The lack of sufficient numbers of skilled radiographers, medical physicists, dosimetrists and oncologists able to optimally utilize the latest technology being installed can impede the delivery of radiation therapy services," he observes. "The joint training center will help address the problem of skilled care, both locally and in the rest of Africa as we move from older machines to the latest Elekta technology. Currently, this type of training requires visits of overseas technical and applications specialists to South Africa and other African countries, or sending staff members abroad. With this training facility, we expect to educate about 600 clinical staff and 200 administrative staff over five to 10 years."
* "Status of radiotherapy resources in Africa: an International Atomic Energy Agency analysis", Lancet Oncol 2013: 14: e168-75
For further information, please contact:
Johan Andersson, Director, Investor Relations, Elekta AB
Tel: +46 702 100 451, email: Johan.Andersson@elekta.com
Time zone: CET: Central European Time
Michelle Joiner, Director, Global Public Relations and Brand Management, Elekta
Tel: +1 770-670-2447, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Time zone: ET: Eastern Time
Elekta is a human care company pioneering significant innovations and clinical solutions for treating cancer and brain disorders. The company develops sophisticated, state-of-the-art tools and treatment planning systems for radiation therapy, radiosurgery and brachytherapy, as well as workflow enhancing software systems across the spectrum of cancer care. Stretching the boundaries of science and technology, providing intelligent and resource-efficient solutions that offer confidence to both healthcare providers and patients, Elekta aims to improve, prolong and even save patient lives.
Today, Elekta solutions in oncology and neurosurgery are used in over 6,000 hospitals worldwide. Elekta employs around 3,400 employees globally. The corporate headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and the company is listed on the Nordic Exchange under the ticker EKTAb. Website: www.elekta.com.