Egypt's National Cancer Institute back to work

Reem Leila , Thursday 22 Aug 2019

The National Cancer Institute is once again treating patients, reports Reem Leila

Renovations are underway at the NCI
Renovations are underway at the NCI

Out-patient and paediatric clinics, intensive care units and five operating theatres at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reopened on 17 August.

Following the damage caused by a bomb blast on 4 August 50 NCI patients were relocated to Al-Qasr Al-Aini, Hermel and Nasser Institute hospitals. They have all now returned to the NCI and resumed treatment.

Damage to the NCI’s administrative building, façades, emergency and early detection rooms will take two more months to rectify, says NCI manager Reem Emad. “Our priority has been patients with advanced cancers, and those needing urgent operations.”

The blast occurred when a car loaded with explosives travelling in the wrong direction of the road in front of the NCI crashed into three other vehicles causing a huge explosion and fire just outside the institute, resulting in 22 fatalities and 47 injuries, especially among pedestrians in the street. 

Since the terrorist attack which caused extensive damage to the hospital the NCI has received a number of donations to help cover the cost of repairs, though Emad says they cover just 10 per cent of the reconstruction bill.

Countering media reports that the NCI had received more than LE80 million in donations, Cairo University President Mohamed Al-Khosht issued statements saying the amount that had reached the NCI’s account was just LE26 million.

He stressed that “donations are not restricted to cash.

“Equipment which the institute requires had been donated, as well as contracting services. Mohamed Abul-Enein, for example, the owner of Ceramica Cleopatra, announced he will provide the institute with the ceramics required for rebuilding.”

The discrepancy in reported figures is likely to be a result of delays caused by the Eid Al-Adha holidays when banks closed for four days, resulting in delays to cash transfers, both domestically and from abroad.

According to Al-Khosht’s statement, dozens of businessmen and charity organisations have promised funds that have yet to arrive.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed has donated LE50 million towards the restoration which Al-Khosht expects to reach the hospital’s account “within the coming few days”.

Some media outlets reported that Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah had donated $3 million to the hospital. “Maybe he will donate some time,” commented Al-Khosht. Salah’s name was on the published list of donors which included businessmen such as Naguib Sawiris and Hisham Talaat Mustafa alongside charity organisations.

The donations, says Al-Khosht, will help not only to restore the NCI but will also be used to enable more patients to be treated.

The target is to increase the NCI’s capacity by 30 per cent. The institute receives 306,477 visits annually. In the last 12 months it has conducted 4,804 operations and seen 7,261 patients. The radiology department alone treated 61,242 cases.

Elham Tabarak, whose son Youssef was transferred to the Nasser Institute following the devastating explosion, says “things are almost back to normal.

“The NCI called me and said my son could return for his treatment. As soon as we arrived the doctors began to administer his chemotherapy,” said Tabarak.

“NCI doctors contacted me and told me to come after the Eid holiday ends,” said the father of seven-year old Laila Sedki, from Sohag.

“When we came we found everything was ready. If anything, it is better than before.”

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 August, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Back to work

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