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  • The CS said the machine was a game changer in the fight against Covid-19, which has so far resulted in 311,894 cases and 13,071 deaths worldwide.
  • According to the Head of Radiology Department, Dr Christine Mamai, the centre will also be used by students studying medicine at the teaching and referral hospital.

The government has installed a modern CT Scan at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

With a medical teleconferencing facility, the machine can enable experts from all over the world to read the scans and interact with their Kenyan counterparts.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe made the announcement yesterday during a teleconference when Kenyan scientists shared images with their counterparts in Wuhan, Paris, Dubai, Beijing, Cairo and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The CS said the machine was a game changer in the fight against Covid-19, which has so far resulted in 311,894 cases and 13,071 deaths worldwide.

TECHNOLOGY

“Through this technology and others that we are going to roll out, the government will provide efficient healthcare to our people. For instance, radiologists from 37 counties can communicate with experts at KNH and get the diagnosis for their patients done in the shortest possible time,” he said.

He assured medical workers of the government’s determination to protect them.

“We appreciate that you are our first line of defence and know the stress and challenges you are facing. We are determined to protect our health workers at all costs as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.

The KNH Chief Executive Officer Evans Kamuri said the machine, the first of its kind in Africa, will enable radiologists to receive images from 36 county facilities and provide diagnoses. “This machine incorporates a medical teleconferencing facility and artificial intelligence; a tele-radiology centre that will act as a hub for diagnosis and reporting of images through a server or Internet connectivity,” Dr Kamuri said. 64 IMAGESIt has already handled over 50 cases and is a welcome boost to the referral hospital’s efforts to decongest services at the other scan.

Dr Kamuri said that identifying viral pneumonia was often difficult since the condition has symptoms similar to non-viral infections.

Identifying the underlying viruses is often not easy but the technology will ensure that the challenge is a thing of the past,” he said. The machine would also make it easier to treat other conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Dr Eunice Omamo, who heads the CT Scanning Unit, said the machine would speed up the scanning of patients since it can produce 64 images in a single rotation.

“In a single rotation, the CAT scan creates 64 high-resolution anatomical image cuts that will form a three-dimensional view of the internal organs,” said Dr Omamo.

Among other features, the 64-slice CT is able to capture images of an organ such as the beating heart, but without the heart movement, or perform injury or trauma scans covering the whole body, in a matter of seconds.

“Patients from other parts of the country will be able to get their CT Scans assessed from the centre in Nairobi. After consultations and diagnosis done by a team of experts, the results can then be sent back to the county facilities in a few minutes. Additionally, doctors from all over the world can use the teleconferencing feature to interact with doctors locally to share ideas and opinions on various issues around the images,” said Dr Omamo.

She said the centre is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to read and interpret scan images quickly and efficiently for faster and more accurate test results.

“We have special AI software installed to read images and identify viral pneumonia. Through deep learning, the software is able to run through and read images of the chest obtained from the scan and pick out regions that are suspicious for Coronavirus infection. This will make the job of the radiologist easier because the AI will have identified the abnormalities in the chest for him or her,” she said.

CORONAVIRUS

She said the AI will not only be used for Coronavirus cases but would also play a major role in cancer management.

“We are capable of doing cancer diagnosis and following up patients through the scan. We will also be able to review whether their treatment plans are working,” said Dr Omamo.

The medic said the AI software would also be used to analyse the image scans to obtain data for research purposes that would assist pharmaceutical firms to develop medicines that work best for their patients.

“Data can be obtained from the procedures as need arises. It is a fertile ground for breakthrough research that will be used to develop medicines that will manage cancer and other diseases for better patient outcomes,” she said.

According to the Head of Radiology Department, Dr Christine Mamai, the centre will also be used by students studying medicine at the teaching and referral hospital.

“Medical students at the University of Nairobi who work and learn at the facility will also be able to study and gain experience using the cases sent to the centre,” Dr Mamai said.

KNH board chair Nicholas Gumbo said the adoption of the technology was a clear indicator of the country’s determination to take the war against Covid 19 to a newer, technologically equipped level.

“We are determined to do all we can to fight and conquer the Covid 19 monster, and the adoption of the technology that also incorporates the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, clearly underscores that commitment,” said Mr Gumbo.